Proposition #1: It's fun to hate Ben Brantley. There's something about the position of lead drama critic at the New York Times that seems to invite scorn, but there's also something about Brantley himself that makes him that much easier to hate. I mean, check out his NYT headshot. This is the photo that he chose to portray himself to his reading public. Even so, he's the most powerful theater critic in the country, and whether he's spot-on or way off base, what he says can have a huge impact on the success of a particular show.
Proposition #2: Yeah, Brantley's powerful, but that doesn't mean I want to read his every word in order to find out whether he liked the show. Also, he's not the only theater critic out there, and it's always fruitful to seek out a variety of opinions rather than relying on one dyspeptic scribe. Wouldn't it be great if there was a Web site that collected the opinions of all the different drama critics into one easy-to-understand format? Kind of like what Metacritic does for movies, books, DVDs, and video games.
Well, now there is. It's called www.didhelikeit.com. The site collects the available reviews from the major critics and represents the basic upshot for each with a simple graphic element -- the Ben-ometer, modeled after old Benny boy. The site appears to be a work in progress: the site's creator apparently has plans to eventually include Off-Broadway shows as well. But it's a valiant effort overall, and a welcome addition to my list of must-see theater sites.