In our efforts to provide a service to the Theatre Community and to help shape the conversation between artist, reviewer and audience into a more constructive, respectful, and meaningful dialogue that informs the audience-goer, gives voice to the community, and creates accountability from the critics who evaluate works, we at Bitter Lemons have created the LemonMeter.

We gather reviews from a variety of local review sites around the internet and then form an aggregate score that in turn becomes a show’s LemonMeter Rating.

The aggregate scoring system we use here at the Lemon is much like what they use at the Film Review site Rotten Tomatoes.

The percentage you see posted is the OVERALL percentage of POSITIVE or SWEET reviews that a show has earned. Our LemonMeter Editor is the final judge and jury as to whether a particular individual review is either SWEET (positive), BITTER (negative), or BITTERSWEET (somewhere in-between). After evaluating each individual review, the LemonMeter Editor then punches those individual reviews into our algorithm engine and the engine automatically tabulates the final overall percentage and the final overall SWEET, BITTERSWEET or BITTER LemonMeter Rating.

The basic equation for tabulating the Overall Score is simple:

Total Sweet Reviews divided by Total Reviews equals Overall LemonMeter Rating.

The Percentage Parameter Zones for the Overall Score – we call them our MORAL ABSOLUTES – are as follows:

Overall Score: 76% to 100% = SWEET

Overall Score: 51% to 75% = BITTERSWEET

Overall Score: 0% to 50% = BITTER

Here are a few other rules that keep the LemonMeter humming.

1) We don’t give any show a LemonMeter Rating until it has received at least THREE REVIEWS (for the LemonHeadMeter that number is SEVEN REVIEWS) These must be reviews that are on the internet, have an attributed author and that have a working link.

We are always in the process of evaluating which sites merit inclusion in the LemonMeter and it is an ongoing process. Quality of criticism, longevity, consistency, connection to established publications, these are all elements used in judging whether a site and/or individual writer merits inclusion in the LemonMeter Rating System.

If you feel your site merits inclusion, please go here and register for press credentials.

2) Since some individual reviews will be judged to be BITTERSWEET – falling somewhere in-between positive and negative – we have created a way to include them fairly in the equation.

When a show has an Overall Score of BITTER, then BITTERSWEET ratings move the meter up ½ of their value.

The “Value” of a BITTERSWEET review is 100 divided by Total Reviews.

As an example: A show with 4 reviews, 3 Bitter and one 1 Bittersweet, the Overall Rating becomes 12.5% (13%). The value of the Total Reviews is 100 divided by 4 which gives 25% value to each, then half of that is 13%. Since the single Bittersweet review raises the overall 0% Bitter upwards, we get a final Overall Rating of 13% BITTER.

The same goes for Overall SWEET ratings, except in that case the BITTERSWEET review moves the average downward.

As an example: a show with 5 reviews: 2 SWEET and 3 BITTERSWEET, would end up having an Overall Rating of 70% BITTERSWEET. 100 divided by 5 equals 20% value to each BITTERSWEET review, cut that in half, we get 10% value for each BITTERSWEET review. Since there were 3 BITTERSWEET reviews in total their cumulative value would be 30%; the final equation would then be: 100% minus 30% equalling an Overall LemonMeter Rating of 70% BITTERSWEET.

3) When an Overall Rating for a show falls within the 51-75% Zone (BITTERSWEET) before using the individual reviews judged to be BITTERSWEET, the individual BITTERSWEET reviews do not factor in and will not factor in until the Overall Rating has moved into the SWEET or BITTER zone. At that point the BITTERSWEET reviews come into play and move the score up or down as described above.

4) If a show gets ALL Bittersweet reviews the Overall LemonMeter Rating shall be 51% BITTERSWEET.

And that’s it!

If you would like your show to receive a LemonMeter Rating, go here to post your show information, and then send us links to at least three reviews and we’ll do the rest.

And if you are a member of the press or wish to become a member of the press and have your work considered for inclusion in the LemonMeter, please go here and register for credentials.


We are always evolving and if you feel that you have an idea that might continue to streamline this FREE service that we provide to the Theatre Community at large, please don’t hesitate to email us at [email protected]

Thanks and enjoy.

Relentlessly yours,

The Bitter Lemons Family