Your name here Play Review Instructor name here Today’s date here               

Your name here
Play Review
Instructor name here
Today’s date here                                                                                                       
Essay title here, for example: Play Review of Hamlet at Boston Court Theatre
Indent each new paragraph apart from your very first one. Your essay should be typed, double-spaced and use 12-point Times New
Roman font just like the example you’re reading right now. Number your pages just I have. The play review should be five sides long.
Use spell check and good grammar throughout. Your essay needs to be printed and handed in by the due date. No electronic
submissions will be accepted.
In the first paragraph briefly outline what you saw, when, and who directed it.
Briefly outline the plot in a couple of sentences. For example, if I wanted to summarize Romeo and Juliet I could say: ‘Set in the
Italian city of Verona it tells of a long-running hatred between two families, which results in the tragic death of the two young lovers,
Romeo and Juliet.’
The strange thing is that although it’s called a ‘play review’ you should be reviewing a production of a play not the play itself,
so don’t fall into the trap of explaining what happens in the story by exploring the plot, themes, or language of the drama. Those
things are fixed and never change. Write instead about what the production did with the play. Talk about the acting, lighting,
costume, set, music and any other element of the production and explain if they did a good or bad job. Feel free to share your
opinion and make bold statements about what you’ve seen. For example, I could that ‘I thought the Romeo actor was terrible,’ BUT
because a critical essay is about demonstrating your ability to build a strong argument, YOU NEED TO SUPPORT YOUR
STATEMENT with a clear and well-argued explanation. For example, explain how and why the Romeo actor was so terrible and if you
have any suggestions about how to fix this problem. For example, ‘I thought the Romeo actor was terrible because the character of
Romeo is supposed to be torn apart by love. We didn’t see that in actor’s physicality because the Romeo actor in this production was
too relaxed to make his performance believable. An example was in the scene where Romeo is banished and must leave the city
forever. The character talks about wanting to commit suicide and he’s furious he’ll never see Juliet again, but the Romeo actor
delivered the lines in a such a relaxed way that Romeo didn’t appear to care about his predicament. Also, the actor didn’t speak
clearly or loudly enough and I missed much of what he was saying. A simple solution to this would have been to mic the actors or for
the director to simply tell the actors to speak louder.’
Talking about specific moments like that will improve your essay and demonstrate that you engaged critically with the
production. But don’t just make one point and spend the entire essay talking about it. Aim for ten clear points about the acting and
other production elements. Consider how design and lighting helped or hindered the production. Did the costumes and set work well
or not? How did all the separate parts of the production fit together? Did some parts work better than others?
When writing your essay tell us what you thought AND always back it up with a strong argument then move on to the next
point. Do this again and again throughout your essay and you’ll maximize your grade. You might want to focus on the two or three
most successful aspects of the production and then counter this with what you thought were the worst parts.
What is the main theme or idea of the play and did the production put that across well? You should also write about how the
play is relevant to audiences today. Is the play relevant to your life? Explain why or why not.
Include some of the key terms from our book such as suspension of disbelief, fourth wall, climactic, episodic, Realism etc. That
will also improve your grade.
Finish your essay by summing up your overall response to the production and remember, your essay needs to be 5 sides long.
If your page count is slightly short or long (less than half a page) your grade won’t be affected but 5 sides is your target so that is
what you should aim to hand in. If your essay is more than half a page short or long, points will be deducted.
If, due to Covid-19, we cannot go and see a live theatre production, I will provide links to two theatre productions by Week 5.
Choose ONE and write your essay on that production.
Overview of Instructor Grading Methodology
All papers that include plagiarized materials will be graded zero.
5 point deductions to be made for the following errors:
The essay does not meet the requirements regarding word count i.e. the essay is either too long or too short (5 points may be deducted)
The layout does not conform to the suggested parameters as set out in the Play Review Guidelines and Outline (5 points may be deducted for each)
Spelling errors (5 points may be deducted for each)
Poor syntax, word choice, and grammar (5 points may be deducted for each)
Insufficient critical argument (5 points deducted for each missing argument)
Lack of clarity and/or detail in each of the critical arguments made (1 – 5 points deducted as per the instructor’s critical judgement)
Failure to include any of the key theatre terms from the program (5 points deducted)
Here are notes from the play: Peter and the Starcatcher which Im writing about in this play review: 
What stood out for me:
The gag of Captain Tash smashing the mirror.
Stage lighting and how it helped tell the story effectively.
The use of parasols to create the ocean.
The set 
based in 1885
the stage was a Proscenium stage
And here are some questions I had about the show?
The performance was full of energy and everyone was loud but I still couldn’t understand about 50% of what was being said. Why? And what could have been done to improve that?
Were moments when the 4th wall was broken effective? If so, why? If not, why? How could it be fixed if needed?
Did you like the way the actors helped change the scene by shifting bits of the set around or the use of parasols to create the effect of the sea? Was it effective?
How did lighting, set, costume help tell the story? 
What specific moments stood out for you? Why?
What about costume?
What about the direction? It’s not easy to organize such a large cast. 
How was the staging effective/ineffective in the telling of the story? Think about the tableaux that were made and the movement of actors across the stage. 
Inevitably, some actors were stronger than others. Who were they and why were their performances stronger? What could have been done to help those actors who were struggling in their roles? 
My notes (I was scribbling away during the performance). You may not agree/understand with any/all but this is what stood out for me as I watched the show:
Very first line lost (couldn’t hear the last word, didn’t get the meaning)
Diction bad, can’t understand what they are saying
giant sheets above stage like billowing sails
how they showed the orphans behind bars
staging — use of boxes to create different levels
lighting – sunshine, danger, blue skies
miming pulling the ropes 
recorded piano odd, not live, singing weak/out of tune etc
toy ships
SFX of creaking ship and ocean sounds
can’t see/hear when actors facing upstage, dialogue lost
SFX fart sounds, why not actor make sound?
scenes behind doors in various parts of ship
flashback to orphanage done with white screens and silhouettes
actors as narrators/break 4th wall/talk to audience
one of the orphans is really good
God save the Queen! Gag. Everyone stands and shouts God Save Her!
sick bucket, comic timing
Tash – crack mirror gag
Smee and the severed hand
parasol waves, ship’s wheel, lighting used to show switch from one ship to other
red light, chase scene
costume/one actor wear brand new Doc Martens / my suspension of disbelief shattered
the croc sounds more like a lion / use of silhouette
use of spotlights
use of gobo lighting at intermission to project stars on stage floor
gender and casting 
suddenly live music Smee and ukulele…why? Seems at odds with the recorded music
Peter flying