Film & Theater studies


A critical review describes and analyzes the theatre experience that you had. You therefore should describe and analyze all the major aspects of the production, which usually include the acting, set, costumes, lighting, direction, music and sound, and the theatre itself. You should discuss these aspects, give your opinion of them, and explain why you have that opinion. There are no right or wrong opinions. You will be graded not on your opinion but on your explanation of why you had that opinion.

Your critical review must review the specific performance that you saw and give extensive and specific details and examples from that particular production.

You must include in your critical review the date of the show you attended.

Your review must be a minimum of 500 words. The best reviews are always longer. Critical reviews should be submitted by e-mail. If you wish to write a review by hand, you will need to mail it in, fax it in, or drop it by my office.

Critical reviews should be written using standard grammar and should not include text- message abbreviations or be written in all lower-case letters.

All critical reviews must be completely in your own words. You may not use any internet or other outside sources in your critical reviews other than the play program. If you need help beyond what is provided in the course materials, contact me, and I will be happy to assist you. In addition to answering any questions you might have, I will look over your rough draft and make suggestions for improvement before you turn in your final copy. Use of outside sources of any kind is plagiarism and will result in an F for the course.


Theatregoer’s Guide, 3rd edition. Jack Watson’s guide for writing critical reviews is included in the back of your textbook. There are many aspects to every play – acting, set, costumes, music, lights, direction, props, venue – and, depending on the particular production, all or most of these should be analyzed in your review. The Theatergoer’s Guide shows you what to look for and how to write about what you have seen.

Give names! When writing about the above aspects, give the names of the actors playing the roles you analyze, the person who designed the set, the people who did the costumes, etc. Get a program, read it at the show, and take it home to use when writing your critical review.

A critical review should always include a brief background of what the play is about but
never re-tell the story.

The play itself – the script – should always be considered. Is it a well-written play or not? It is possible for a good play to be done badly, and for a bad play to be done well. What is the point of the play? What is the playwright trying to tell the audience?

Remember: Do not use information from the internet or other outside sources. Doing so will be considered cheating. Critical reviews are scanned through Safe Assign, a Blackboard feature which finds any passages taken from the internet or other submitted papers.

A critical review is a combination of information and analysis. You should write it for someone who hasn’t seen the play but is considering going. By reading your paper, that person should have a better understanding and enjoyment of the play when s/he attends it.

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