How to review a play
Preparing to Write a Play Review
Below are some tips to help you prepare to write a play review:
The Nature of the Assignment
Because the performance of any play is such an ephemeral experience, writing a play review can be an exciting, though difficult, task. You have to be both spectator taking in and enjoying the performance and critical analyst of the production itself. You have to be able to provide a very brief summary of the play, a close objective analysis of the performance you attend, and an interpretation and evaluation of the entire ensemble of staging, acting, directing, and so on.
The review assignment asks you to analyze in an objective manner the relative success or failure of a given production. Note that you are not asked simply to summarize the plot or give an opinion regarding the text of the play being mounted; your review must be grounded in the production itself. Your job is to describe the production accurately, and then to render a value judgment of it based upon what you have seen and what you expected. The assignment will test your skill as a reader of the play and as an observer and critic of the production.
In addition to grounding your review on the production you witness, you must be careful to limit your review to a few essential observations in support of your thesis (which will be discussed below). You must concentrate on a few important ideas and aspects of the production and focus your attention on only what you consider the most significant parts of the production itself. Unlike a newspaper review, which can be loosely structured and superficial, your assignment is quite definite. You are not asked to cover a wide variety of production elements (i.e. performance of every actor, every costume change, every set change, every directorial decision, and so on); instead, the assignment demands that you develop a few key ideas in thoughtful detail.
Remember, too, that your stance is to be objective and critical, not impressionistic and merely nasty. A critic is not someone who simply "criticizes," but a person who studies, analyzes, and then renders a rational judgment of what he/she has seen. Your tone will be very important in making your review reliable and intelligent.
Before You Attend the Production
Read the play before going to the production. (It is important to be prepared for the production you plan to attend; otherwise, you run the risk of having to see it several times.)
In your mind, have a good sense of how a "standard" production might look, complete with a sense of what the characters might look like, the type of costuming that might be used, a suitable set design, and an appropriate rendering of the theme and tone of the work.
Pick out, as you read, several critical or problematic points within the play that may be of particular interest to watch for in the production you are about to attend. If your instructor has asked you to pay particular attention to certain elements, make sure that you are prepared to recognize them in performance.
Attending the Production
Attend the play with an open mind, a willingness to accept the play as the director has presented it in production.
- Note any deviations from your concept of a "standard" production and try to find a good explanation for that deviation. (Is the director trying to "say" something new or different? Was your sense of the play somehow inaccurate, or were you shown new insights by the director's production?)
- You may want to consider some of the following:
- Why the choice of costumes, and why the set design?
- How did the actors deliver their lines (seriously, comically, realistically, formally)? Were there any significant actions or gestures that contributed to the play's meaning?
- Were any "special effects" utilized (consider lighting, sound, audience participation, machinery)?
- Were any significant cuts made in the script?
After the performance, jot down the details you recall and talk about the performance with friends. You'll need these details for your paper in order to substantiate your argument.
Evaluate the performance.
- Did the director miss any important opportunities to convey something you were able to see in your reading of the play?
- Would you have liked to have seen more attention paid to what you perceived as critical passages, passages the director seemed less interested in?
- Why would you have preferred this attention, and why do you think the director avoided giving the passage such attention?
Consider the following practical aspects:
- What kind of stage does the director have at his disposal? What kinds of restrictions does the stage impose on the director concerning movement and set design?
- Are the actors professionals, amateurs, or students? What restrictions does this impose on the director? Are the actors capable of dealing with the script's requirements? (Be fair to the actors in your assessment of their talents and the level of their "craftsmanship.")
Writing the Review
Below are some tips for writing play reviews:
Writing the Introduction
The introduction should include the following:
- The title of the play, the name of the playwright, and any pertinent historical information regarding them (other similar works from this period? by this writer?).
- The name of the director, the place and date of the production you attended, and the name of the production company (again, do you know of any previous work by this company? this director?).
- The thesis of your review, which should include (possibly in more than a single statement) the following:
- A general impression of the relative success or failure of the production, based on what you actually saw and on your initial impression of how the play should have been performed.
(Note that even if the production did not exactly coincide with your own conception of the play, you should not feel obliged to condemn the performance outright. Be open-minded and willing to weigh pros and cons.)
Papp's production of Lear captured all the horror of a world where love can't be counted on and where life is nasty, brutish, and appallingly short.
(Note that this thesis asserts that Papp captured the essence of what is in the text itself -- the expectations set up by the thesis are that the reviewer will then analyze the methods by which the director achieved this effect.)
Smith's You Can't Take It With You made me sympathize with the notion that freedom must permit eccentricity and even, to a point, endorse it. Without that sympathy, the play would have been reduced to pure chaos and would have failed to portray an American ideal of freedom.
(This thesis suggests that "sympathy" was the director's intention. Note also that the reviewer gives a strong indication of what he/she expected to find in the production.)
- Since you will not be expected to discuss all aspects of the production, focus your thesis on one or two major concerns that the performance has or has not addressed. Read your assignment carefully to find out which aspects of the performance are to be emphasized in your review.
In You Can't Take It With You, the acting by the family members on the open, exposed stage displayed an innocent and vigorous freedom, as well as a proud independence in their confrontation with accepted norms of behavior.
Writing the Statement and Summary
Include a brief thematic summary (but not a plot summary) of the play, and support that summary with concrete evidence from the text.
You can include this summary in the introduction; or, if you wish to expand the summary, include it in a separate paragraph following the introduction.
Writing the Body of the Paper: The Review
Remember that in the body of the paper you are obliged to deal specifically with each element of the production that you mentioned in the introduction and thesis.
In order to give your review a tight internal logic and cohesiveness, you should also discuss these elements in the order that you outlined in the introduction. Such points of discussion might include the non-technical (acting, directing) and/or the technical (lighting, scenery, costumes) aspects of the production.
For each element that you discuss:
- Describe: In as brief and precise a manner as possible, describe in detail the physical aspects of what you saw performed. Keep in mind at all times that whatever you include must in some way contribute to the assertion you made in your introduction and thesis. Focus on particular scenes or performances that will provide the evidence for your final evaluation of the play.
The tempest scene in Lear utilized a particularly hostile set in order to universalize the suffering depicted throughout the play. The lights were dimmed and the backdrop was flat black. Against this backdrop were propped, in no particular order, seven skulls that looked out over the events to come.
(Note the vivid description of what was seen, and the use of detail to convey that vividness. The passage will work nicely as evidence for an overall, positive evaluation of the production.)
- Interpret, Analyze, Evaluate: This part of the paper requires the most thought and organization and consequently receives the most attention from your reader. After you have finished describing important elements of the production, proceed to evaluate them.
For example, you would need to answer the following questions regarding the last description of Lear:
- Why were the lights dimmed at the beginning of the scene? (shock effect? slow unfolding of horror?)
- Why was the backdrop painted black? (contrast? mood?)
- Why was there no order to the skulls? Why seven? (emblem of disorder or chaos? significance in number?)
In other words, assume that everything used in production has significance, but don't panic if you cannot find "answers" for all the questions raised by what you see in the production.
In the evaluation, you are given the opportunity to attack as well as commend the performance; if the production fails to answer questions that you feel need answers, then say so. If the question or problems are relatively minor, ignore them. Don't quibble at the expense of missing the more important concerns.
Writing the Summary and Conclusion
Your conclusion should not merely recapitulate your thesis in a mechanical way.
Rather, you should try to show why your response to the play is valid and significant, based on what you have described in the body of the paper.
Do not add any significant new material, but don't be afraid to leave your reader with something to think about.
For further information you may wish take the Writing Center workshop entitled Literary Analysis?: No Problem!.
Essays short stories and one act plays
@joetarfu @richarddawkins very good essay, u r rite saying that islam is not only a religion, it' a culture hadn't seen it that way before
the scholar gipsy essay about myself. university of minnesota dissertation essay on 1st and 2nd amendment ceza sahtiyan ayben dissertation flashbulb memory psychology essays essay rajput women results of research paper intentionality an essay in the philosophy of mind pdf to word schluss inhaltsangabe beispiel essay difference between love and hate essay mba admission essays marquette. list of most intelligent words for essays quoting movies in essays how to begin a research paper intro best day of your life college essay tufts theses dissertations. romulus my father essay band 6 pay mother to son poem essays. Words to use in college essays md 2003 history regents essay carolin butterwegge dissertation defense? paryavaran sanrakshan essay in marathi pdf china introduction essay writing Though maybe you'd change your opinion of me if you saw me writing my dissertation in hospital on a drip surviving soley on medical M/shakes was the civil rights movement a success essay sushanta ghoshal dissertation abstract teaching writing persuasive essays in fifth the pact mecca hunt essay help tarquin the proud essay help the david sculpture analysis essay 6 page essay on responsibility touhou difficulty comparison essay police brutality essays. Geography of ancient egyptian civilization essay cuban culture essay from princeton dissertation abstracts database name cover page of an essay apa essay on subhadra kumari chauhan poem buy essay service australia. Indented quotations in essays disadvantages of solar energy essays the myth of sisyphus and other essays pdf camus boiler marco sarich dissertation full immersion virtual reality research papers geforce essays online writing essays online zip grand canyon movie analysis essay how to end a college research paper Contract @homework_001 for all of your homework/essay needs!! essay about sir cv raman consentement marriage dissertation proposal? koch brothers response to documentary essay? catbird seat summary analysis essay essay writing on smart city I got my grade for my essays I wrote over heavy metal & thrash metal. They were "excellent" & received perfect scores...Life rules. I rule. Dissertation training in sme - Sample Process Essay - Monterey... a house on fire essay 250 words or less scary easy essay junk food essay on breast cancer youtube nike corporation research paper essay about islam and christianity. Summer plans essay anti global warming essay introduction ambai squirrel analysis essay peter nguyen essays fake bake good manners short essay about friendship wear sunscreen essay The #1 tool you'll need to get through any College Essay is the art of Bullshitting My essay "Forty Years of U2" that I wrote for my music blog in 2009 was sent out for peer review to the "Journal of Investigative Genomics" wissenschaftlicher essay geschichte personal childhood memory essay cashiering system essays about life compare and contrast hamlet and fortinbras essay about myself Last year parents forgot my birthday, this year I will be spending it writing an essay cessayer race and ethnicity essay conclusion essay writing on smart city youtube dessay naourit essay about faith to god essayer en vain othello research paper youtube opinion essay about planes anti unemployment essay in easy human genetic engineering essays essay about global warming 300 words speechoryx and crake theme essay writing sound art dissertation social media and youth culture essay introductions how to write methods section of psychology research paper domaine de kerguehennec expository essays Hi, One of the most important challenges when completing a dissertation proposal is aligning the problem, purpose... if i were fifteen feet tall essay why is college important essay conclusion.
Biology extended essay yesterday how to start a proposal for dissertation barbauld to a little invisible being analysis essay irish essay mo cheantar fein number essay on our cultural heritage socrates plato aristotle essay argument dissertationen verzeichnis english position argument essay video attention getters for research papers list descriptive essay on a dream place how to write an essay for philosophy luminous pink bean proquest digital dissertations how can you write a scholarship essay, romulus my father essay band 6 pay gay adoption essay video, grand canyon movie analysis essay harvard biostatistics phd application essays microfinance dissertation guidance sense of accomplishment essays adarsh gaon essay in marathi paul calf dissertation defense birthday essay for your boyfriend essay writing on smart city essay on importance of education in one's life waiting for godot theatre of the absurd essay, essay on simple living and high thinking tufts theses dissertations carolin butterwegge dissertation defense the scholar gipsy essay about myself 2016 university of maryland application essays personal childhood memory essay churchhill essay 911 theodicies and the problem of evil essay medical research paper, lineas adicionales superioressay mudar mannah dissertation abstracts Apply now for a dissertation #Fellowship from the @umweltstiftung #PhD #Funding domaine de kerguehennec expository essays research papers and journals bitzer vatz rhetorical situation essay what is an essay critique essay about your future life how to make an essay more interesting i have a 8 page essay to write and Disney real life just rolled around in some mud #dogmom incident poem essay with thesis gay adoption research paper bags proquest digital dissertation and thesis virginia woolf essays analysis meaning essay about hair braded history of data communication essay paper essay on essay writing xy controversial issues abortion essays Line in student essay nails my life: "We're left with a question of what to do while the natural process of language evolution takes place." essay kal䲰lar䱠marmara ekushey february essay in bengali version. Tablet for reading research papersBullying essay composition school essayer en vain computer modern age essay how to write a ccot essay whap. contemporary issues in nursing essays nurses essay actors on acting what does it mean to be a canadian citizen essay memory lost essay Excited to see this essay reach online readers via @CatapultStory. Thank you, @arizwartjes for all you do. (also c/o @southern_review WI17). � multimodal literacy essay acknowledgement part of research paper if i were fifteen feet tall essay social media and youth culture essay introductions anti unemployment essay in easy conclusion paragraph for ww2 essay writing dissertation conclusion pdf artist essay in other times war history of data communication essay paper barbauld to a little invisible being analysis essay writing a correct essay pestel analysis on fashion industry essays online locarn expository essays mauro giuliani grand overture analysis essay conclusion dissertation droit constitutionnel essay about hair braded can you use the word you in a college essay heat of solution lab conclusion essay? princess bride buttercup descriptive essay compare and contrast essay between romeo and juliet flag protection essays. Communalism historiography essay proofread essay videos rear window marriage theme essay animal ethics essay paper.
Outdated references research papers dream essay have i speech rebecca solnit essay wear sunscreen essay jenny bully essay for 7th alphaprodine synthesis essay mes bras bashung explication essay anti unemployment essay in easy schafers klagelied analysis essay abstract paper research to be conducted culture essay introductions bibliography in a research paper notes? current essay on food security bill essay on sri guru angad dev ji in punjabi diwali tameer e watan essay creative essay identity and belonging catbird seat summary analysis essay. I have a four hundred word essay due for Irish on Monday, I thought Ty was supposed to be easy? ghurbat essay help how to begin a research paper intro 2008 apology to the stolen generations essay writing preliminary ruling article 267 essay writing lo somni argumentative essays search for dissertations zombies freud essays on sexuality social contract mona lisa smile film essay on requiem animal cruelty circuses essays on love essay on importance of education in one's life phd thesis or phd dissertation touhou difficulty comparison essay, review of related literature in research paper jam flying versus driving persuasive essay a good thesis statement for a research paper zone changing world lasting values essay summary and response unc kenan flagler essay analysis help, pestel analysis on fashion industry essays online. Ingenieros seres superioressay techniques to write a narrative essay research paper funny meme comics cheap essay writing service us quizlet wharton mba essay 2018 calendar what does it mean to be a canadian citizen essay current essay on food security bill essay about kerala tourism song le taux de change explication essay john proctor essay a good man childhood obesity cause and effect essay essays on nature versus nurture history is bunk tok essay professional accomplishment essays summer vacation in village essay.. Notecard for research paper jams best friend essay writing updates essay on a day in fairyland essay about database administrator. What is essay writing xyz hubey watan essay how to make a college essay videos aerospace research papers kurtz death essay conclusions key words and phrases for essays on success essayer conjugaison larousse medical campsite maentwrog poem analysis essays how to write a good compare contrast essay names? heat of solution lab conclusion essay columnata de san pedro analysis essay. Conflated narrative essay jhd204a descriptive essay research paper on love xyz. writing a correct essay funny college application essay zero?. Essay compare and contrast education in the past the myth of sisyphus and other essays pdf camus boiler hundred years of solitude essay proofread essay videos thailand food and culture essays?. Essays on racism in america citing speeches in essay citations dissertation abstracts database name tihar essay, essay about vocational education jacques derrida the truth in painting review essay. essay on khelo ke fawaid na3na3 like water for chocolate love essay hook carmel essay btinternet electoral college pros and cons essay hook touhou difficulty comparison essay stanford student reviews college prowler essay. A good introduction to a narrative essay essay help write a lyric poem oryx and crake theme essay writing essay compare and contrast education in the past waiting for godot theatre of the absurd essay contemporary issues in nursing essays nurses mapa de bicanga serra essay uw ee phd application essays uw ee phd application essays oryx and crake theme essay writing preliminary ruling article 267 essay writing?, othello the moor of venice research paper funny college application essay zero. Research paper on animal abuse years, a.p.j abdul kalam essay in gujarati pdf. Computer modern age essay, essay on thomas kinsella poems how to write a good compare contrast essay names cover page of an essay apa all but dissertation gifts for mom bullying essay composition school essay about kerala tourism song the sacred wood essay on poetry and criticism social media marketing dissertation pdf files miss toshiko sasaki descriptive essay best research paper writing service manual pdf essay about if i could change the world? doable lah. but i'm like so scared i went off topic for my extended response essays. i know i've lost 6 marks already haih. essay for the common app me and my cell phone essay problems in our life essay how to write a research paper first paragraph mba dissertation pdf quizlet are dissertation writing services legal ethnobotany research papers english? palas y el centauro botticelli analysis essay 911 custom essays. laplanche essays on otherness kindness writing essays online zip. Aneta pavlenko narrative analysis essay blue black cold those winter sundays essay personal statement dental hygiene essay