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Pitlochry Festival Theatre accused of misleading audiences

Pitlochry. Photo: Andrew Curtis Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Photo: Andrew Curtis
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Pitlochry Festival Theatre is “in danger of misleading its audience” by using star ratings from other theatres’ productions in its advertising and on its website.

The concern was raised after The Daily Telegraph’s Scotland theatre critic, Mark Brown, told The Stage that he had noticed a banner advert for the venue’s staging of A Little Night Music in a field near Pitlochry.

He said that the banner “appeared to be advertising that the show had had a four star review from The Daily Telegraph”.

However, the paper has not carried any reviews of Pitlochry shows this season.

Brown added: “The advertising that Pitlochry Festival Theatre is using this year seems to me to be in danger of misleading its audience as to what is being said about its own productions.”

He has contacted the theatre privately to express his concerns.

Use of star ratings for unrelated productions extends to the PFT website, where newspaper quotes for non-Pitlochry productions are blended together with those for the current show.

The production page for Alan Bennett’s The Lady in the Van, revived by Pitlochry in a new production directed by Patrick Sandford, also carries a four star rating from the Telegraph.

It features quotes for the current production from reviews in The Times, the Herald and the Courier, above quotes from the Mail on Sunday and The Daily Telegraph. The latter were used in publicity for the 2011 Hull Truck production, but there is no distinction between the two.

A spokesman for the Advertising Standards Authority told The Stage that advertisements “should not be misleading”.

He said: “They should not mislead either by exaggeration, ambiguity, omission, or otherwise. So consumers should be able to trust the claims that are being made in an advert.

“We would take any concerns on board if an advert was said to be misleading although we can’t judge it without it being brought to our attention.”

John Durnin, PFT’s artistic director made a strong rebuttal of the concerns to The Stage. He explained that advance publicity does include promotional material and review quotations about the play from other sources, but said these were not about the production but “about the play”.

Durnin said: “We never, ever, use quotations that relate to another production to try to suggest that this is a review about a Pitlochry production. That is something that we would never do.

“As soon as we receive review material for a Pitlochry production, that is the material that we then utilise in order to promote the show once it is up and running.”

He added that if there was any review material on the Pitlochry website that should not remain there once a show has opened, “then that is clearly an error and I will look at that and see what is going on there”.

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