We started to get curious after receiving a marketing email about ‘The Children’s Hour’ and actually looking at the reviews. Then a reader gave us a link to an article about EU legislation which threatens prison for anyone who uses a quote to mislead. Well, here are some insights from Ian Shuttleworth, theatre critic for the Financial Times, who was kind enough to answer some questions for us:
Q: is distortion of critics quotes an issue for you?
A: To a certain extent it comes with the territory. But there’s distortion and distortion. Selective quoting for purposes of exaggeration and repointing is pretty much part and parcel of the business; doing it in order to diametrically misrepresent what had been written (the blunt example would be excising a “not”) is clearly just plain wrong. The “blazingly hot ticket” example you cite is pretty much on the cusp, I’d say just on the far side of acceptability. Speaking for myself, it seems I use such long sentences and write in such a considered way that I’m a bugger to excerpt from for marketing quotes anyway!
Q: would you even know about it, for example are you informed when marketing emails are sent?
A: Nope. Simple as that
Q: what redress is there for critics?
A: Beyond those formal channels involving the Critics’ Circle and/or SOLT, which clearly aren’t going to embrace all cases, then there are no formal routes at all, and you just rely on having channels of communication already there with relevant people, and/or rumbling impressively enough to get the other fellas to pull into line. I haven’t yet heard of a successful case (I’m not sure I’ve heard of a case at all) of that EU regulation being invoked.
Well, we shouldn’t be surprised, but we are.
We wondered what the Advertising Standards Authority would think since they are currently promoting their new extended powers, effective from the 1st March. A search for ‘theatre’ on their website revealed very little, but anyone can make a complaint, as long as it’s within their remit, so we’ve given it a go and we await their response……
There’s a whole pandora’s box of goodies here, if you include the advertising of premium seats, and start to ask whether you really are getting the ‘best available’ seats when you let the theatre or agency choose them for you.