David Herman has written a shrewd piece in The Critic magazine on the decline and fall of the professional theatre critic.
Almost every point he makes can be applied to music criticism, a profession lacking in renewal and flair.
It is hard to think of a leading critic under fifty. There is no new generation in sight. This is unprecedented. Billington was barely thirty when he began at The Guardian, older than Nightingale when he started at The Statesman. Much is made of the fact that Tynan took over at The Observer when he was 27, but Hobson was only 31 when he began as a theatre critic and James Agate was 30 when he began at The Guardian. Beerbohm was younger still, 26, when he began at The Saturday Review in 1898, and Shaw, his predecessor, was not yet forty when he became a theatre critic. Going further back still, Hazlitt was in his thirties when he first saw Kean’s debut as Shylock in 1814. The great critics, in short, always began before they were forty. Who are their equivalents today? Where are the new, young voices in theatre criticism?
Read on here.