An Attempt to Review a Review How-To (What?!)
Jacob Sexton, College Sophomore
Northern Kentucky University, Cincinnati, OH
THEME. THEME. THEME.
First question a reviewer should ask is why do I care? Why is this piece relevant RIGHT now, to THIS audience at this point in time. If it's a new play, is there a new prolific statement being explored? If it's a revival, what about the piece is relevant enough to revive? (Does it have potential to be as meaningful as the original production?)
Every play should have a central question or statement. Every GOOD play does. This is the play's thesis, per se. Every choice made from acting style to scenic painting will be tied back to that which Aristotle called "thought."
This is the ideal starting point for analyzing a piece. Bear in mind the theme of what you SAW may be different than what you READ (And yes, do read the play first!!!). Theatre is meant to be performed, not read, and a director's touch is as vital to the unique final product as the playwright's. Did you get the same thing out of the piece as your neighbor? Was everyone onstage working together to tell the same story? Did the lighting design help create an atmosphere in which the central question can be adequately explored? Etc. Etc.
I am shocked the writer of this article does not encourage thinking about theme. Aimless analyzing individual elements without a point of reference will get you no where. Here is what's important to ask: (1) What is this production trying to say? and (2) DO YOU PERSONALLY LIKE IT? (A review IS a PERSONAL opinion). Now delve! Why do you feel the way you feel? How do the individual elements of theatre inform and shape your opinion of the production. Thus, how successful was the production? NOW you have a road-map for a meaningful, personal review.
Now go watch a play.
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