Reviews are an indispensable resource for the theatre historian – records not only of individual productions and performances but of broader cultural attitudes. However, the few attempts to account for the review as a form are compromised by outmoded models both of authorship and, in particular, of language itself. This article describes the rationale, development, functionality, and initial results of an electronic database of theatre reviews which permits analysis of the form according to the principles of corpus linguistics. Such an approach, argues David Roberts, can track across a large body of texts questions of conceptual vocabulary, reader-orientation, and – as the expansion of the corpus permits – generic variation and historical change. Initial searches demonstrate the embedding of much mainstream reviewing in neo-Aristotelian assumptions about dramatic form and effect, derived from the New Critical backgrounds of many reviewers, and suggest the means by which readers are made complicit with such partial representations. David Roberts teaches English and Drama at University College Worcester. His publications include three volumes in the World's Classics series for Oxford University Press, and a monograph on seventeenth-century audiences.