Play Reviews

The point of a play review is to critique a play, not just to describe it. Thus, the review requires an overall thesis, just like in a regular essay. In this case, the thesis will be related to whether the play was an effective interpretation or well-executed version of the play. It needs to provide points throughout the review to support the thesis.

Be sure to obtain a program. Use it to correctly identify the play, authors, characters, etc. The following questions will highlight some elements of the play that can be critiqued:

Basic Information

  • What was the play?
  • Who was the author?
  • In what theatre is the play being performed?
  • What date and time was the play performed?

Script

Identify the following:

  • What was the major conflict, dramatic question, or unifying theme?
  • What was the dominant tone of the play? Serious? Comic? Ironic? Explain.

Directing

Comment on the following:

  • Was there an identifiable production concept, unifying metaphor, or interpretational approach? If so, what was it and how was it manifested in the production?
  • Were all of the elements of the production compatible and coordinated? Explain.
  • If not, what seemed out of place or inadequately integrated with the rest?

Acting

Choose at least two actors (male or female) to comment on in some depth:

  • Were the roles appropriately cast?
  • Were some actors inadequate to their roles? In what ways?
  • Were some actors especially effective? If so, how and with what effect?
  • Were the actors audible? Understandable?
  • Were there any special skills (such as dancing, singing, fencing, playing a musical instrument) required of any of the actors? If so, how effectively were the demands met?

Scenic Design

Comment on the following:

  • In what type of performance space was the production staged?
  • What characteristics did the scenery embody? What did the scenery convey about the play?
  • How did the scenery contribute (or fail to contribute) to the total production? What would have been lost if the scenery had been eliminated?

Costume Design and Makeup

Comment on the following:

  • Were there any special costume needs? (Historical, fantasy? etc.) If so, how well were they handled?
  • Were there any special makeup needs? If so, how well were they handled?
  • Overall, how did costumes and makeup contribute (or fail to contribute) to the total production?

Lighting Design and Sound

Comment on the following:

  • Were there any special lighting or sound needs? If so, how well was it executed?
  • Overall, how did lighting and sound contribute (or fail to contribute) to the production concept and the total production?

Final Thoughts

  • What was the overall impression of the performance?
  • What was the overall impression of the experience?
  • Any final thoughts?