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Our Review Ratings Explained

Our review ratings are based on the assumption that our readers are intelligent. We do not simplify just to star ratings as most other publications do.

Our review team has has long, self-obsessed conversations over the years which led to FringeReview dropping star ratings. We have, in recent years, moved away from being dogmatically attached to simple “ladders of good or bad” and evolved our ratings to be a bit more diverse and descriptive. This is the guidance we give our reviewers…

We have expanded our ratings to give more choice.

If a show is LESS THAN RECOMMENDED  the review isn’t published but the reviewer offers private feedback to the company. Why? Because FringeReview seeks out good work. We are a Good Fringe Guide.


GOOD SHOW – a show you don’t want to add a personal recommendation to but it has enough virtues for you to still post a review to the public domain. Let the audience decide for themselves. The review is constructively written to highlight what is good about it. It contains constructive critique about how it could improve and what would lead you to recommend it.

recShowRECOMMENDED: A VERY GOOD show you are happy to recommend. It contains plenty of evidence of what is very good about it and why the reviewer recommends it. It contains constructive critique about how it could improve.

highlyRecShowHIGHLY RECOMMENDED:  An EXCELLENT show you strongly recommend. The show is “A” grade. The review celebrates, with evidence, why it is excellent (The old 5 star?). Also, what would make it stand out?

outShowOUTSTANDING SHOW: A show that is beyond excellent, breaking new group and up there with the best of the National Theatre standard of work or is unique and groundbreaking. Rarely given, the review is over 500 words with objective evidence of why this is outstanding. You do not give this ever just because you personally loved it. The review needs objective evidence about why it is a stand out show.

mustSeeShowMUST SEE SHOW: This show could be anywhere above GOOD right up to OUTSTANDING but you want to draw attention to the fact it really should not be missed for its uniqueness. It could be groundbreaking, even if it hasn’t quite succeeded in its vision or intention. But among all else you have seen, and with so many other shows on offer, this show has to be seen.

hiddenGem (1)HIDDEN GEM: A show at HIGHLY RECOMMENDED or above that deserves a wider audience. You reviewed it with hardly any audience in and this rating gives it a boost by pointing to its quality and importance and it isn’t getting the larger audience it should.


You can probably see there’s still a bit of a ladder from weaker to stronger work. But we’ve added a bit more diversity of choice.

Hidden Gem ratings should really help strong work that really deserves a bigger audience.

Must See ratings are a resounding recommendation amongst too much choice.

A Good show rating allows the performing companies to glean positive feedback and use relevant quotes.

The other three ratings are more straight forward but all ratings from Recommended to Outstanding are shows we recommend to audiences.

We’re experimenting with this, so do send us your thoughts and reflections.