Theatregoers are seemingly ever more obsessed by two very different types of star.

Perhaps more than ever before, shows are sold on the back of celebrity names, even when some of those celebrities aren’t top drawer and have few, if any, stage acting credentials. The results are often predictably disappointing, though not to the groupies who are more interested in the selfies and illegal filming than the holistic theatrical experience that the more discerning crave.

We will leave those stars for another day and concentrate on those used by journalists and their followers, which attempt to illustrate, in very short form, what is good and bad to see.

Almost since its inception, over two decades ago, British Theatre Guide has wrestled with the conundrum of stargazing. In the early days, publications that used them were relatively few and far between, but now we are a real outlier in living without star ratings.

There is an exception though. As anyone looking at our reviews over the last three weeks will have discovered, while BTG reviewers do not apply stars at any other time, those seeing shows in the Edinburgh International Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe do so. The rationale offered by our founding editor, Peter Lathan, was with so much to see and so many shows reviewed in a short period of time, readers needed an instant steer.

In an ideal world, having identified a promising possibility, they would then read the review to check whether it really did tick the necessary boxes. In the real world, most would merely check out five-star reviews from the more reliable media outlets and dash off to book tickets before every performance was completely sold out. That could lead to disappointment, when their tastes did not accord with those of a handful of critics.

The argument for stars can be compelling. A publication will get greater publicity, especially if critics err on the side of generosity, publicists loving the chance to splash stars across posters, even for mediocre shows. In addition, the system does help to weed out the exceptional from the good and the good from the bad, although some readers may fall into the group that loves nothing better than to read a bad review or, to be more exact, a good review of a bad play / musical / opera production.

The argument on the other side, to which we have always subscribed, is that our team works hard to write valid, considered reviews of everything that we see and likes to think that individuals looking for guidance would be keen to read BTG and other reviews before taking the plunge.

It is a sad fact of life that if a review is preceded by a number of stars, unless that number happens to be five or one, it is unlikely that the majority of 'readers' will ever get to the review. That is a pity, since the reviews themselves can be works of art. Just think of Kenneth Tynan or Michael Billington at their best. Others will be highly entertaining, not always to the benefit of the writer / director / leading actors under review.

In the past, we have carried out reader surveys and the majority response has always favoured publishing reviews without judgemental stars. If anyone reading this article has strong views on the subject, then do please let us know.