Details for Writing a Theatre Review with HEART !

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review tips

The best advice I ever heard about putting a theatre review together is to make sure it is a useful experience for the reader from start to finish.

So I am sharing this – along with a photograph that inspired it


 You had a strong reaction to something you saw on a stage and you want to write about it

You’re in the right place.

I have a system for it.  And the tiny details along the way may seem like common sense but they took me several years to get into a format that tells the story of a night at the theatre.


The good thing about having a system made out of different pieces is that if you can get a few of them in place you are well on your way to delivering a valuable experience to your reader.

It’s goof proof.

You can put all your thoughts together with a checklist so nothing is left out.

Let me tell you all I can in this blueprint and I promise to offer more help to take further with you at the end.


There are some great benefits to being a theatre critic –

  • free theatre tickets and interval coffee with good company
  • grow your tribe by offering valuable content.
  • step forward with your writing career.


Following a structure means your mind doesn’t hold you back and your imagination can be free. That is my intimate experience of using a system.

The blueprint I created from several late nights writing over 200 reviews will let you know how to write a review to bring you engaged readers fast.

And it’s here.

I found 3 rules gave me theatre goers who enjoyed my work!

  1. Set your own clear goals for what you want to write so your readers know what to expect from you.
  1. You can’t fail to satisfy your true fans and those who are not don’t have to read more if it’s not their bag.
  2. Be consistent about what are you cover in your review so readers know what your work offers.

TOP TIP – During the show listen out to other theatre goers are saying to validate what is useful to them. Gold dust! What would they like to know from your review?

We all have viewpoints and each is valid. Use other peoples opinions as inspiration but not a script.

Listen to their comments and put yourself in the readers place, seeing things from their point of view and what they would like to know.

Getting into your readers head and see the world their way and this will help you hear the words of your review.

This is one of those things that is challenging the first time you do it and then becomes a routine and eventually a breeze! Like a roller coaster the third time is a blast.

Publish and be useful is our goal!

Here we go let’s put all your hard work into action.

You have had a strong reaction to a performance and we are now going to put your thoughts into words.

Type in your answers to each section as we go >>

Yep? Let’s hit it.

Start at the beginning.

Step 1 Hook them in with a punchy opener.

Put the title at the start and make the words fit the question you want your review to answer.

Choose a title that matches what your audience wants to know.

Your headline is your magnet to attract the reader to your work!

Where do you want to take the audience what are you going to tell them?

Don’t lose your juice before we hit the middle bit though. Hold some of that great energy back!

Next give the basic info from the show listings.

What were the biggest questions your people in the queue in front of you wanted to know?

Answer their question specifically.

For example –

  • How long is the show?
  • Is it touring somewhere else afterwards?
  • Who is in the cast that we have heard of?

How does the show deliver a great ending?

What transformation do you think your readers will have?

Remember: Theatre seats are expensive, readers will thank you for your honesty!

Look back at your chat with the box office person – when they sold the show to you was there anything interesting in the chat you had? Bring in your reader with a clear shot about what’s in it for them.

Focus on your end goal – maybe you want to attract your readers to take advantage of the cultural events in their neighbor hood. What information can highlight this in your review?

With all these Q’s answered it’s time to head into the middle bit.

Step 2 Let’s talk about the Action!

Here’s the middle bit

What made the show pop?

If it was the plot use the programme or play text to write a brief outline of the story.

If it was the performance name the lead actors.

If it was the creative team, explain the vision of the director.

Now let readers know the type of drama they are going to see.

It’s important to be clear on the style of the work so readers can match a show to their mood.

Describe the genre of the work, was it circus, comedy, period drama, murder mystery etc.

Segment the above information to leave the reader with a concrete answer to what will get out of this show.

Talk about bonus value to ticket holders!

What are the other things on offer that makes this event stand out?

For example Free Talks, Creative workshops. Unusual merchandise, World Premier

These extras add to the audience experience.

Step 3 Deliver your verdict

How was it for you?

This is your postcard from the front row.

Take time to share your experience

Did you love it?


Work out how you want your verdict to look what is your point of view and how you want to say it.

Deliver it in three sentences –

Say what you thought why you thought it and what in the show backs it up.

Justify your response by stating the quality of the set, music, costumers, direction, acting etc

TIP – Don’t use the review as the soap box! Make your point then move on ready for the big finish.

What is the audiences response?

Will they be singing a song from show all the way home?

Or be remembering a funny line the next day to say at work?

This is you making recommendation so point the show towards the perfect audience. Who is this for? Grandmas, children, date night, hen parties, executives.

If you want to drive your point home –

Can you describe something that moves you and stays with you forever from the show to back this up?

Was it a reminder that life is for living or an uplifting feeling after 2 hours of beautiful emotions.

Step 4 Dig out a punchy last line

Leave your reader with your best shot.

Pick a take away line that will linger in the readers mind.

I could be a pun on the show title or a funny line from the lead actor.

It’s all done. You’re fine. It’s good.

Remember to look back at all your resources if you get stuck for example the theatre company website, interviews with the cast, local what’s on guides or online videos of the show can refresh your memory.



You’ve created a review people will be excited to read so get ready to upload.

  • Get rid of any pointless words (brand new check list coming in my new book! )
  • Do a simple sub edit by looking for any typos and grammar errors in your spell check.
  • See that you have used the same tense all the way through.
  • Check with the programme or theatre website that you have spelt the names of the writer, theatre company, venue and show title correctly.

Now if you want to make this gem really shine look out for a tool kit on easy sub edits in my forthcoming book!

You are ready to go and ready to upload. Click send. C’mon. Let’s do it!!

Publish and be useful.

So let’s lock down the key points what a fast review is what it means to you

Note the order of these sections is not fixed in stone. If it makes sense to move them around do it. This is what works for me.

I want you to start practicing and take an action step today

I’m here to help you move forward

Yes there is a lot to flesh out – but you don’t have to do all of the steps here – the key is to start!

Here’s something you can apply right now to your next social media post.

You can use this today on your favourite microblog like tumblr etc

It’s a quick take away mini cheat sheet –

Targets to hit when time is pushed –

  • What was it?
  • How did it achieve this?
  • Describe it like a magic pill – powerful / energizing / refreshing?
  • What was the highlight?
  • What did you think of it?
  • Your verdict in three words?

Use this recap to make a tiny blog post review to the bank today and start getting immediate results writing about something you saw recently. (for maximise sharing look out for great hashtags in my new book )

Find more posts on how details can inspire here



  1. Pingback: Details (Door) | What's (in) the picture?

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