How to Review a Play - A Guide for Aspiring Theater Critics


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Writing a play critique is an exciting, challenging task which requires some special skills of the reviewer.

In addition to being a spectator participant, both absorbing and enjoying the experience, you have to be able to write a brief summary of what it is about, analyze the performance, and evaluate the whole production, from staging, and acting, to directing.

While personal interpretation is always involved to a small degree, the art of being a successful reviewer is in being able to objectively analyze whether a play is a success or a dud.

This means being objective and critical, not just plain nasty, so it is important the reviewer sets a tone of writing that indicates an intelligent, well thought out review.

A key element to success is to your homework. The reviewer should read the play before attending a performance, so they are well prepared, know what to look for, and be able to analyze the production from one visit.

The review should be written immediately after the production while details are still clear in the mind.

The reviewer should also be open minded and be prepared to accept an interpretation of a performance, no matter how often they may have seen the play.

It is up to the reviewer to convey to readers what the most outstanding elements of a performance are, including things such as whether the director was trying to make a statement, what the costumes and set design were like, and were any special effects used.

When it comes to writing the review, begin with the name of the play, its playwright, and any relevant information, such as other, similar works, by the same author, followed by information about the director and production you attended.

The review should include an overall summary of whether you believe the play is a success or failure, and why, remembering this gives the reviewer considerable power over the play's future.

This responsibility should be taken seriously. This means you should keep an open mind, not trash the production totally, and make sure your comments are kept on a professional level.

In the main section of the review, you are expected to address each specific part of the production you referred to in the introduction, doing so in the same order you referred to them initially, so your reader can easily follow your logic.

In conducting your review, you should question every physical aspect of the play you noticed, and question its significance in the overall production, but don't fuss over minor issues – it is more important to discuss whether the play answered the major questions it raised.

Then follow with a conclusion that is not a repeat, or summary of what you have already written, but an explanation of why your comments and reaction to the production is relevant, accurate, and professional.

From high-budget Broadway productions to small-town summer theater, exciting things happen when you get involved with theater of any sort.

Visit to learn more about writing for and about theater, and to sign up to receive your free Ebook, “Playmaking: How to Write a Script".


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