Ben Brantley Gives a Mixed Review

By Richard Horgan Comment

Within New York theater circles, the website is well-known.


For those less familiar, some background:

Welcome to, your official guide and translator for all the Broadway theater reviews by Ben Brantley, the chief theater critic for the The New York Times… and The World (insert evil and high pitched Ben Brantley laugh here).

We developed for two reasons.

1. Everyone wants to know if Ben Brantley and The New York Times liked a Broadway show or not.
2. No one actually wants to read the reviews.

It’s all fairly tongue-in-cheek. Still, it’s interesting, via U.K. website London Theatre, to read Brantley’s latest thoughts on this digital echo:

“I don’t look at it very often but when I do, I just think really? I was throwing up?” he laughs. “It’s so subjective. Not only is criticism itself subjective, but so is people reading criticism. That’s another layer of subjectivity – people interpret things differently.”

I’m keen to find out if the pressure of writing the New York Times review ever gets to him – and what level of responsibility he feels knowing that his reviews can historically make or break a production. “No” he answers simply, “I really didn’t from the beginning. It’s just such a privilege and so pleasurable to be able to see the material and I love writing about it. You have to be polite and you have to be proportionate. If you see a tiny show off-Broadway, maybe a non-equity production, why on earth would you say that’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen? You don’t crush a mosquito with an Elephant. You can take off the gloves for a major West End or Broadway production, because it is such an investment of people’s money.”

Love that line – “You don’t crush a mosquito with an Elephant.” Plenty more in this chat with London Theatre site editor Dom O’Hanlon, including a confirmation from Brantley that he sings tunes from Hamilton – which he has seen three times now – in the shower.