Many thanks to Samira for drawing our attention to this piece in The Observer about some apparent underhand shenanigans aimed at reversing the fortunes of the South Bank Centre’s production of The Wizard of Oz (sample quote from Sam Marlow in The Times: “The real crowd-pleaser is Bobby the Westie, as Dorothy’s beloved dog Toto who displays a playfulness and spontaneity lacking elsewhere in Jude Kelly’s production”).
Anyway, here’s the story:
There were few friends for Dorothy on the discussion board of Whatsonstage.com, the leading online forum for ordinary theatregoers. One guest, ‘Tom’, described the show as ‘lazy, unimaginative, and possibly slightly arrogant’.
Then, as if by magic, the mood changed. Three posts expressed surprise at the criticism and lavished praise on the show. There was only one snag – the gushing paeans were written by staff at the Southbank Centre; just 75 minutes later, they were caught red-handed. A beady-eyed moderator noticed that the three rave reviews had all come from computers that shared the same IP address, the code that identifies an internet connection.
The Southbank Centre, which receives public funding, has admitted that three staff posted the reviews and the matter is being investigated. It denied they had been acting under instructions from the producers of the show, which is directed by Jude Kelly, who is also artistic director of the centre.