The suggested length of your critique should be 1-2 pages typed, but this is not a requirement… just cover the topics that need to be covered with the detail that each deserves. Your first play critique will start off with an outline of production details followed by a three paragraph essay. As always, be sure to frame your approach to the production by considering the three steps of criticism:
What is the artists’ intention in producing this play or musical?
How completely have the artists achieved their intention?
Was the artists’ attempt worthwhile?
SUGGESTED CRITIQUE STRUCTURE
Begin your paper with an outline of Production Details. This information is found in the program.
Title of Production: Be sure to italicize or underline the title EVERY time you write it. Do not put the title in quotations.
Author(s): You must note everyone who contributed to the creation of the show including the original author if the show is based on a previous work. If it’s a musical you must note the composer (who writes the music), lyricist (who writes the words to the songs) and the book-writer (who writes the spoken dialogue).
Directors: Include the Choreographer, Vocal Director, and Instrumental Director if there is one. You do not need to mention the assistant director, stage manager, or technical director.
Designers: Include scenic, costume, lighting, and sound.
Production Date: What day, date, and time did you see the show?
In the first paragraph, introduce the play you are critiquing and identify the writer(s) and director(s). Build a foundation for your essay by addressing the play’s genre (musical, comedy, drama, etc.) and by giving a VERY BRIEF plot synopsis which focuses on where and when the play is set, who the main characters are, what they want, why they want it, and what obstacles they face. Now identify and examine the play’s theme(s). What do the artists who worked on the production seem to be saying about the world in which we live? What is the message or concept that they want you, the audience, to take away when you leave the theatre? Why do you think this is the artists’ intention?
In the second paragraph, focus on the creative team’s interpretation of the play or musical, and identify the Production Concept. Explore how the writing (music/lyrics/ book) and the themes (ideas/messages) are illuminated or accentuated through the production concept using specific examples. What challenges do you think the script or performing space pose to the artists approaching the production and how do they work to address these challenges? Consider the ways in which the artists use realistic techniques to help the audience clearly identify recognizable items or occurrences. Then consider the ways in which the artists ask the audience to suspend their disbelief and use their imagination? Why do certain aspects of the production use realistic techniques while others use non-realistic techniques and what does that say about the artists’ interpretation of the play’s themes?
You may address any/all of the following topics:
Staging of scenes/dance/movement by the director/choreographer
Design and execution of Scenic/Costume/Lighting/Sound elements
Performance(s) by the actor(s)
In the THIRD and final paragraph, conclude the essay with your personal response to the play or musical that you experienced. Did you feel that the work of these collaborating artists was cohesive and supported their original intent? Did you agree with their interpretation and appreciate the execution of their concepts? How do you regard the show’s value as a piece of popular theatre? Be sure to draw upon summaries of the ideas you have previously explored in the essay to support your argument.