Play Reviews

Now that you've been assigned to write a play review, where do you go for ideas and sources of information? Your local newspaper or entertainment weekly will have detailed listings of current or upcoming performances. Check out ONstage for theatre listings of performances around Ontario.

Writing a review is much like writing an essay. Your review should be informative, critical and easy to understand. If you're writing for a newspaper, your review should also be entertaining and fun to read. It may include plot elements, memorable moments, a summary of why the audience would enjoy or dislike it and other observations. Here are some tips on how to write a theatre review.

  • Basic Elements: Include basic information about the play - the title, author, leading actors, theatre location and other relevant details. Answer the five "w" questions - who, what, where, when and why. You may also wish to summarize the play, without giving away all of the plot. Keep the program to confirm correct spellings.
  • Be Objective: As a writer, you must try to be as objective as possible. Write your review without using the first person (I).
  • The Big Picture: Comment on the different aspects of the production - the acting, the sound, the lighting, the direction, the set, the themes of the play, the audience's reaction. Read the entire program, especially the director's notes for further ideas and clues about the production.
  • Explain: Back up your ideas and comments with examples. If you make a positive or negative statement about the production, explain yourself. How would you improve the play or this production?
  • The Good with the Bad: In every performance there is something of value that you can take away. Don't miss it. If there was a memorable moment, comment on it.
  • Other: You may choose to read the play before or after seeing the show. This can give you more insight about the playwright's ideas.


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