September 25, 1919: Recently, there have been complaints of theatre reviews coverage declining in mainstream newspapers. But a clipping from 100 years ago from our archive shows that this is nothing new.
“In the Daily News, Mr EA Baughan has been referring to the predicament of the dramatic critic of a morning newspaper in point of space and of time,” we said in our editorial. “The troubles are not quite so bad as they were during the war, when with paper scarce and costly and with sizes reduced accordingly, only a few ‘sticks’ or even a few lines could be spared for a new play; and when with the need to get earlier than ever to press in consequence of the restrictions affecting newspaper trains, a criticism had often to be in type almost as soon as the performance was over.
“The former theatre starting time of 8pm to 8.30pm has re-established itself, and the going-to-press time has not been modified sufficiently to leave a working margin after the fall of the curtain. Mr Baughan says that the actors suffer most from this state of things. ‘We simply can not do the players justice in a notice written hurriedly.’
“That is true enough. Writing upon a play of the importance of The Choice, the Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Chronicle, and the Daily Mail each gave about 20 lines to the acting. But that is only a part of the truth. The author suffers because his play cannot be dealt with adequately. Then there is the plight of the critic. The conditions under which he is working make him ill at ease, and in writing down his conclusions he can attempt no proper analysis of the play.”
If you’d like to read more stories from the history of theatre, all previous content from The Stage is available at the British Newspaper Archive in a convenient, easy-to-access format. Please visit: thestage.co.uk/archive