A review of a theatrical play should demonstrate your understanding of what takes place, and it also should provide your response and opinions.
For a printable version, download the full document here (PDF).
Use the links below to access steps to learn more about writing a successful theatre critique.
- Go to the Play
- Take Notes Immediately
- Locate Technical Terms
- Review the Assignment
- Create a Thesis
- Write the Critique
- Have the Critique Reviewed
Go see the play. If you rely on someone else’s memory, you will not have all the knowledge you need to write a successful critique. Many plays are quite entertaining, too, so attending them can be fun instead of being a chore.
After the play, write down everything you can remember immediately. If you wait too long to record your information, your notes will become less accurate and your critique will suffer. Since understanding the play is essential for a strong critique, be sure to make notes as soon as possible after seeing the play.
Using your notes from Step Two, locate technical terms used in the course. These enhance your paper and give it greater credibility. In short, using technical terms shows that you know what you are talking about. Remember things such as the director’s interpretation of the play, the acting, the costumes, the lighting, the set, character depiction, any technical aspects, the music (if any), and any special effects.
Make sure to answer or address any specific questions that you have been given by your instructor, which means you will have to read the assignment. If you are not clear on the requirements, your critique will suffer.
Using all the previous steps, come up with a thesis. The purpose of a thesis statement is to give your reader a guideline for what you will be discussing in a clear and concise way. It should appear at or near the end of your introductory paragraph. And saying that the play was good does not work. Explain why it was good. Show us with specific examples. As a matter of fact, if you can leave out the words good and bad altogether, you are a lot better off. State your opinion as fact. Leaving out phrases such as, I thought, makes for a stronger paper. Remember that your opinion is valid. So, assert yourself. Make bold statements. Then support them. It is easiest to limit the paper to a few things that you can talk about in great detail and then do so. The paper will be easier to follow and to write. For example, in reference to the production of Romeo and Juliet in 2000, you could write something like this for a thesis paragraph:
Romeo and Juliet is a classic story that everyone knows. Yet, there are many ways to interpret Shakespeare’s original play in order to make it more relevant to a modern audience. WCU’s post-apocalyptic production was not only interesting, but it was extremely successful in bringing home an old story and making it new. The costumes, set, and acting were crucial and spectacular in pulling off the desired effect. They were used well together, with obvious attention to detail, to make the audience believe that this story was one that could happen, once again, in the future.
After creating a simple, yet bold thesis statement, then support it throughout the body of the paper with as much detail and technical terminology as is necessary to achieve the aim of the paper—to convince the reader that your opinion is based on solid evidence. Again, for example, if you were supporting the thesis in the paragraph from the Shakespeare paper, then the next paragraph would be about the costumes, the third paragraph would be about the set, and the fourth paragraph would be about the acting. Then the fifth paragraph would be how they all worked together to make the show believable. Remember that each paragraph needs a topic sentence in order for the paper to flow properly and allow your reader to follow your thoughts. Finally, sum up what you have said in a thorough but brief conclusion (in the example above, that would be your sixth paragraph); meaning, tell us what you are going to tell us, then tell us, and then tell us what you told us. Pay attention to the specific formatting guidelines for CMTA 104 on the WCU website.
Have someone else read your critique. Ask a friend or roommate to review it to look for any mistakes you may have missed. You also can bring it in to the Writing and Learning Commons. A tutor will work with you at any stage of the writing process, with the goal of making your critique as strong as it can be.