The number one pitfall for any review is falling into the exposition mode.  Many times our reviewers want to provide an entire synopsis of the story, or in the case of murder mysteries they provide an extended synopsis of the process of the evening.  The trouble is that these types of shows follow the same format EVERY time so it’s very easy for the reviews to all sound the same.

If you are struggling with a review, try this out. Start with any part of it, but make sure your review follows these guidelines.

Paragraph 1 – Brief attention grabber that states simply what you thought about the evening in one sentence.  Include the company and the title.  This paragraph provides an overview regarding the rest of your review.  Sometimes it’s easier to write this after you’ve written the rest of the review.

Paragraph 2 – Brief synopsis of the event & story.  If you can do it in 5 lines that’s fantastic.  It’s important to include this synopsis so that the audience has a frame of reference for later when you share your critiques.  So you want it to be clear, but really not be the emphasis of the entire review.

Paragraph 3 thru # – Discuss each of the artistic aspects of the event: acting, directing, writing, sound, lights, costumes, food.  Briefly.

When you make a statement about an element

    • Suzy was amazing
    • The sound was poor
    • I didn’t feel the weight of Troy’s character

Be sure to qualify that statement.

    • Suzy was amazing.  I particularly enjoyed how connected she was during her solo, “Name of song”.
    • The sound didn’t seem appropriate.  There were moments in the show that felt like the director intended them to be intimate, but the booming volume from the mikes made it difficult to forget I was surrounded by 200 people.
    • I didn’t feel the weight of Troy’s character in the first act.  The strength of his relationship with Cindy didn’t come through until well into the last half of the evening.

And be sure NOT to provide an excuse for the actors/designers:

    • Opening night jitters
    • Must have been nervous
    • Lacking in training

And be certain to NAME the actor/designer that you are commenting on.

CONCLUSION – This ought to be about two sentences.  Just a quick statement again summarizing your ultimate impression.

  • I was very surprised and pleased by this little gem on State Street.  Despite the technical hiccups it is definitely a theatre worth supporting.
  • While this show didn’t really connect with me, I know quite a few in the audience enjoyed themselves immensely.  Maybe this is the show for you!
  • I’ve been impressed by this company in the past, but it feels like this latest project was a little too large for them to take on.