Tips for Writing a Play Critique

Some people believe that the theater is out of date these days. They often prefer a blockbuster or a music concert to a good theatrical performance. Yet, these individuals do not know that modern theater often incorporates music into performances. And the live performances are definitely worth visiting and seeing! Still, it is one thing to enjoy wonderful acting and another thing to present your opinion about the play. A critique paper requires one to provide more than just a simple analysis. To critique a play, one has to be really creative. You need to love the art of live performance and be able to reflect those feelings in your paper to make the reader want to see the performance.   

Still, this should be an academic paper. Thus, paragraphs should be properly structured and formatting requirements should be met. So, how to critique a play? Obviously, this should not be just a description of what you saw. This should not be a summary of the plot, too. On this page you will find a quick guide to writing a critical analysis of a play. 


How to Write a Critique of a Play

Five Questions to be Answered 

If you don’t know where to start, simply answer the following questions: 

  1. Who? Write about the dramatist, actors, directors, etc.
  2. What? Present the title.
  3. Where? Indicate the location where the performance took place (the theater, school, etc.)
  4. When? Mention the time of your visit.
  5. Why? Present the main theme of the play.

Thus, you will have to look for additional information about the author, his or her achievements, prizes, career steps, etc. Find out about the topics the author often raised in his or her works. Of course, these questions will only help you to craft an introduction. You need to follow a play critique outline to deliver a good paper. 

Retell the Plot in Brief 

Do not go into details. This is only a concise description of the main characters and events. Where does the action take place? When did the described things happen? Who are the main participants? Now, you are probably familiar with the golden rule of every play, right? It should be clear when and where the action takes place. 

Next, in this paragraph you may indicate if the story is interesting; if you like the script itself. Highlight the main conflict, unifying theme or a dramatic question. Write about the tone of the play. Was it serious or comic? Explain why you think so. 

Explain the Play

Highlight its central message. Make a claim explaining what it tells us about. Then, provide your argumentation to support this statement. Use common sense and your personal perception. As a rule, there is only one central message, but there are exceptions, too. The list of the widely spread themes includes friendship and love, loneliness and alienation, progress vs. traditions. This list of social and psychological topics can be continued. You should be able to interpret the message or messages of the play.

Introduce the Characters

Provide the real names of the actors and the names of the characters. Analyze whether the right actors were chosen for the roles. Explain why you think so. If certain actors were not the right match for their roles, explain why. Were some actors especially impressive? Estimate their movements, facial expressions and body motion. Were they appropriate for the play’s character? Speak about their speech, appearance, reaction to the words of others. Indicate who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist. You should stay unbiased and avoid writing about your own perception. Instead, you should understand and present the author’s perception and way of thinking. 

Learn also about "Movie Critique"

Depict the Stage Set and Sound

Did it reflect the right mood? Was the theatrical scenery appropriate for the time period depicted in a play? Did it convey additional information about this work of drama and its main theme? Did it contribute to this work? What would have changed if the scenery had been removed?   

Lighting: Did it transfer the right mood, brightness, emphasis? Was there something peculiar about the illumination? What was this? Do you think that it was arranged appropriately? How did illumination add to the production concept? 

Music and additional sounds: Was there an orchestra? Was the music appropriate for the performance? Were the specific sound needs met? Was it done well? In general, how did the music and additional sounds add to the mood of the performance?

Describe the Costumes and Makeup

Was the choice of the costumes appropriate for the time of the play? Did these costumes fit the characters? Were there any unusual costumes? (fantasy, historical? etc.) How well were they handled? Was the makeup appropriate for the characters? Did the makeup and costumes contribute to the general atmosphere of the performance?

Put Down your Remarks

Make your notes regarding the drawbacks you have noticed while watching the performance. These can be either formal or substantial flaws. The former is manifested in the incorrect presentation of historical places/facts, inability to present the language of the social group to which the character belongs, etc. The latter is manifested in the incorrect display of the psychological state of the characters, the lack of a unified logic in the actions of the characters, the absence of an adequate explanation of the characters’ biographies, etc.

Note: you should support all of your claims with strong reasoning. You should stay unbiased, sincere, and fair. Assess the entire theatrical performance. Try to be both original and constructive.  The play critique format presupposes that you will describe a specific performance and its main elements formally but thoroughly. To do this, you will need to find out what the other critics think about this play. Still, you should not plagiarize - do not present someone else’s thoughts as your own. 

Learn also about Book Critique in article "How to Write a Book Critique for College"
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Play Critique Essay Example

Still do not know where to start? A good play critique essay example can be of great help. Feel free to check our sample. Find the works with themes similar to yours. It is fine to check someone else’s work to understand what to write in your critique. Yet, you should not copy-paste any information. This will lead to plagiarism and low grades. Our examples were designed to present the topics and ideas traditionally assigned to college students.  

Of course, to get high grades you need to have excellent writing skills. You need to possess good analytical skills and conduct a careful study of theory and other relevant materials in addition to checking our samples. 

Theatre Critique Sample

I attended a live theater event in Seattle called Rapture, Blister, Burn at ACT between 12th July and August 11th. I particularly settled for this event because of the fact that the whole show was hilarious and so involving that I felt as if I were in the same situation. From the beginning to the end, it was all excitement and I could tell it was all worth my time and everything I sacrificed just to attend the event. The event marked one of the most auspicious moments I have ever had. The coordination and cooperation among the participants made the event so synchronized that we all loved the flow of the episodes until the end. The play is probably one of those events that move the audience because it involves the audience from the beginning to the end. The show brought the play into reality and kept the audience smiling and hysterically laughing. From the facial expression of the spectators, one could tell that the play certainly amused them.  

The play was about a reunion of three old friends who met after years of separation since they finished college. The play involves five extremely talented actors who skillfully and diligently present an enchanting performance that makes everybody reflect on the fact that life allows one to make choices and that apparently people are penalized for their when least expected. The playwright endeavors to explain to the audience that whatever option one settles for, he or she will have to pay for the consequences. The most evident consequence and the aftermath of any choices you make is the disappointment that compels one to regret his or her actions or reaction. The bitter part of it is when one realizes that he or she cannot run away from the choice he/she made. The fact that they have to live by the life they chose to lead whether nasty or not moves the audience and makes them realize that indeed, life is worth making a diligent and carefully calibrated choice. The diction utilized by the playwright definitely helps deliver the message successfully. This made the communication of the intended message effective in the play as the audience could be seen nodding their heads at the reality that the show presented.

The play was well organized as everything seemed well-streamlined and the flow went as planned. All the time, the actors presented their best. The wide availed space created a serene atmosphere for the actors who gave their all and moved the audience in the best way possible. Perse, the wide space enhanced a positive production that presented a challenge to the audience. Every play is staged in a manner that is aimed at maximizing the audience’s sacrificed time and making them appreciate the play. Without a proper plan, the efforts to entertain as well as educate the spectators will be proved futile. Space is crucially important in ensuring the success of the play in passing the intended message. The theater went smoothly without any hitch or glitch a fact that proved the competence of the crew behind the scenes. Their vocals were well pronounced and could easily be heard all through the play. In addition, the work of the technicians could be detected as no difficulty was sensed at any point as far as the technical expertise during the event was concerned.

The actors were well selected for their roles in the play as their characters were well articulated with the roles that each actor was endowed. This approach served not only to entertain but also to educate the audience. As such, the actors accurately portrayed their characters throughout the presentation. That is, they presented their true characters as depicted by the playwright, which contributed to the successful performance of these magnificent actors with a great personality. The actors tried to vivify the play and by all means they endeavored to expose the true picture of the fictitious characters in the play.

Finally, the designers in their line of work honored their obligations and attended to their line of duty respectively. This was evident from various elements of design as far as the set, costumes, makeup, sound, and the lighting system was concerned. The production was superb from the beginning to the end, which is proof that the designers attended to their duty in time (Ruhl 59). The actors had their makeup was done in the most appropriate way, which also helped to portray the characters of these actors. The sound system was well maintained in the manner that the proceedings were all heard to keep the audience glued to the play. Additionally, the lighting system was well-maintained throughout the play in a bid to avoid any mishap. This made the production feel and sound extremely hilarious and yet presented a lesson worth learning reminding most of the audience that indeed choices have consequences. The show was well directed in a way that made everybody acknowledge the performance and praise the actors for their outstanding presentation that not only made them laugh but also presented a challenge to them. 

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