“On the whole, I believe critics are born, not made: possibly because of some temperamental deficiency or innate shyness, many of us discover at an early age that we prefer to be among the watchers than the watched... Critics are always accused of being failed actors, dramatists or directors; it's nearer the truth to say that we find our emotional energies released by appraising the work of others.
“What exactly gives one the right to criticise? The short answer is: absolutely nothing. You can get a degree in Drama at various universities... but there are no diplomas licensing you to practice. Rightly so: criticism is not comparable to computing or dentistry. In the end, you earn the right to be a critic by the passion, commitment, moral zeal and verbal facility you bring to the job.
“Criticism, to me, is not the last word: simply part of a permanent debate about the nature of the ideal theatre.
“Just how close should we get to the practitioners? I suppose there are two extreme answers to the question. One is to see the critic as the public's champion, who should refuse to be contaminated by contact with the profession he or she is writing about. The other is to say we're all in the same business and that it's therefore OK to mingle freely with people outside office hours.
“My own course is to steer a prudent middle way. I've no wish, even if I were asked, to attend theatre parties, frequent rehearsals or sup late night with the stars... Bedding down with the people you write about is the shortest way to professional castration. On the other hand, it's useful occasionally to talk to directors of theatres about artistic policy or theatrical economics.
“In short, I see the critic neither as totally detached outsider nor as hob-nobbing insider, neither as man from Mars nor stage-door Johnny: more as a permanent occupant of a Pinteresque no-man's-land always in danger of getting caught in enemy cross-fire.”