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Understanding our star ratings

1 star This show is unfinished or unrehearsed, or seems to be far beyond the abilities of its creators. We don’t think it should be put before an audience in its current form. (Very occasionally, we also use this rating to express criticism of material we consider objectionable.)
2 starsThis show has some merit, but we think it needs a lot of work, and doesn’t achieve the standard a reasonable audience member would expect.  You might still find it interesting or enjoyable if you particularly like its theme.
3 starsThis is a good show, but it doesn’t stand out to us. There may be some significant flaws offsetting stronger segments, or it may be technically excellent but lacking a distinctive spark. Nonetheless, if it’s caught your eye and you’re already considering seeing it, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
4 starsRecommended. This is a stand-out show, with one or more memorable and distinctive features. The presentation meets or exceeds the standard the audience will expect, almost all of the time. There are few if any weak links. If this show's theme appeals to you, we think you should see it.
5 starsStrongly recommended. This is an exceptional show, well-conceived and well-executed. It has a clear purpose, and fulfils that purpose admirably. It won’t be perfect – because no show is – but its minor flaws don’t detract from the overall experience. We think you should consider this show, even if it’s not the type of work you’d normally choose to see.

We revise our criteria from time to time.  The criteria above apply to reviews dated 1 August 2013 or later.  All our star ratings are measured against the standards of the Fringe, so for example, we don’t expect an elaborate set (though we'll recognise and reward an especially effective one). In the case of youth or community productions, where that status was clear from the programme listing, we make a modest allowance reflecting the expectations of a reasonable audience member.  All our star ratings are assigned by the reviewer who saw the show, in consultation with an editor.