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Sample Play Critique

The following is a sample play critique, written by a former student, that would probably have received a Bish grade. It may be useful to read one before your submit yours. A short discussion of the strengths and weakness of the paper will be included in CAPITAL LETTERS and will also follow.

“You Can’t Take it with You”

by (NAME WITHHELD)

The play “You Can’t Take it with You” is a play that involves both human affairs and play themes relating to everyday life. This play speaks a lot about how we do a lot of things in this life that are entirely worthless later. It also speaks about how two completely opposite families are soon going to be in-laws. These two families are living in one of the biggest human affairs of someone’s life [<<AWKWARD SENTENCE] . This is why I think this is one of the major themes regarding human affairs and everyday life in this play [<<AWKWARD SENTENCE] .

In the following paragraphs I will go farther [SP: FURTHER?] in depth of these themes. In life, we are all working toward or for something, but what? That’s [AVOID CONTRACTIONS: "THAT IS" IS BETTER] for you to decide, and you get to live with the consequences. These consequences could be something not horrible and hard to give up, or it could be something very dear and important to you that is lost. This could be a family member or simply the waste of time.

Obviously the loss of a loved one or family member is a huge loss, but what about the loss of time? I know that sometimes the waste of time seems insignificant and is a minuscule loss, but lets think about it. Baltasar Gracian says, “ All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that.” All we really have is time. If we had one thing in the world[,] would we want to give it up? I know I wouldn’t. That’s [THAT IS] kind of what we are doing when we waste time. All the money, cars, and houses in the world can’t [CANNOT] buy time. This is exactly what this play is talking about. [NEW PARAGRAPH] So many people in this crazy world do this in this everyday of their life [A FEW EXTRA WORDS THERE?] . Some people waste their life away on a job or something they really don’t [DO NOT] want to do. How many times have you heard someone say, “If only I had ten more hours in a day”, or “If I only had one more day.” I’ve heard this many times… I’ve even said it myself. This is a pure sign of either wasting time or not putting the most important things first. [NEW PARAGRAPH] In this play at the end, the Grandfather explains this very thing. He says to Mr. Kirby, “ Why can’t people be like me? What’s wrong with enjoying life, and not doing any thing you don’t want to do? What’s the point of working for money, by doing something you don’t want to do? You can’t take it with you.” This I think is a very good point. [NEW PARAGRAPH] How many times have you seen families fall apart or divorces occur, because of negligence of each other? [<<THIS SENTENCE IS ABOUT A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT SUBJECT, AND SO REQUIRES A NEW PARAGRAPH] I know I have heard about it a lot. This is all for what, I ask you? The answer to this is something temporary that won’t matter in a few years. Some of these things are houses, big cars, fame, and money. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of these, but too often the things that are eternal, [DELETE COMMA] and that really matter are forgotten in the process. Such as love and pure happiness [INCOMPLETE SENTENCE] . I think when watching this play they are trying to show us the important things in life, and how not to waste your time with the frivolous things of the world.

A PRETTY GOOD DISCUSSION OF THEME SO FAR, DON'T YOU THINK? PERHAPS A BIT LONG-WINDED, BUT THE AUTHOR USED SOME QUOTATIONS FROM THE PLAY AND OTHER SPECIFIC EXAMPLES TO MAKE HIS/HER POINT. NOW, ALL OF THE SUBSEQUENT COMMENTS SHOULD REFER DIRECTLY TO THIS DISCUSSION OF THEME. LET'S SEE IF THE WRITER DOES THIS...

The other thing I mentioned in my thesis [ACTUALLY, THIS IS THE THESIS RIGHT HERE---WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF IT] is how these two families are in the middle of a huge “human affair”. These families are so completely opposite of each other, and yet their children fall in love and are going to get married. The boy’s family is very prim and proper. In fact, thinking back to the last paragraph, his father is exactly one of those people who lose so much, because they are work-aholics and don’t know how to have fun. The daughter’s family is the happy-go-lucky type. They don’t believe in doing anything that you [<<THEY] don’t want to. Sure they work, but they make sure if they are going to be doing it for the rest of their life they enjoy it. So, you [AVOID THE SECOND PERSON, I.E."YOU," IN FORMAL WRITING] can see how opposite these families are.

As soon as these two very opposite ways of life collide, it becomes a bit hectic. Everything that could possibly go wrong does. The in-laws show up on the wrong day to meet each other, they get arrested, and everyone hates each other. Tony (the son) was the reason that his parents showed up on the wrong day. He wanted to show his family what it really means to be a family, and to have your [<<ONE'S] own way of life. Teaching this lesson to his family made them realize the best way of life, and the families begin to get along. In the end [,] the children actually do get married. I think the meaning of this human affair is that anything is possible if you want it to be.

OKAY, SO WE HAVE EVEN MORE DISCUSSION OF THEME, WHICH MAKES IT LONGER TO READ AND SO IS A BIT LONG-WINDED. THE AUTHOR PROBABLY COULD HAVE BEEN MORE CONCISE, BUT A THOROUGH DISCUSSION OF THEME IS RARELY A BAD THING.

They also in this play [<<AWKWARD PHRASING] used a variety of different acting techniques, [<<DELETE COMMA] and many other things to help present these ideas to the audience. One way they helped present the show of the importance of happiness over worldly items is by how Mr. Kirby (the boy’s dad) acted after he decided to enjoy life, and not be such a stiff-necked person. He was much happier, and everyone noticed a great difference in his personality.

THE ABOVE WAS A SOLID DISCUSSION OF THE ACTING, THOUGH IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NICE TO HAVE HAD A SHORT DESCRIPTION OF HOW MR. KIRBY ACTED, INSTEAD OF JUST SAYING THAT HE DID. THE DIFFERENCES OF PERSONALITY WOULD HAVE BEEN A HELPFUL THING TO DESCRIBE. IN OTHER WORDS, WE KNOW THAT HE ACTED DIFFERENTLY, BUT WE DO NOT KNOW HOW--DID HE JUMP FOR JOY?, SMILE MORE?

Another way they helped present the theme of doing what you want [THIS IS A BIT ODD, BECAUSE THE THEME AS DESCRIBED ABOVE IS FAR MORE COMLEX THAN 'DOING WHAT YOU WANT'] is by how the different families dress. The Sycamores’ dress after the fashion of what they love. The Kirbys’ dress in what is fashionable or their uniforms. They don’t really seem to have as much fun with their clothes. For example Essie dresses in her ballet outfit all the time, because she loves to dance. Mr. Kirby dresses in his work suite, but not because that’s what he loves. It’s because his father pounded it into his head that he had to be a businessman. So for the rest of his life he spent it doing a business that he didn’t like.

A VERY NICE DISCUSSION OF COSTUME DESIGN. NOTE THE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES OF HOW THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS DRESSED--THE BALLET CLOTHES AND THE BUSINESS CLOTHES .

In, conclusion, I would like to say that these are what I believe to be what the playwright intended to be taken out of the play The themes are to not waste ones life on things you can’t take with you, and anything is possible if you want to be. Never give up on anyone or anything that is important to you. It’s not worth it. If you keep this mindset and have faith, everything will work out for itself.

A GOOD CONCLUSION, TOO. THE AUTHOR RESTATES THE MAIN POINTS OF THE THESIS, BUT IN A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WAY THAN WAS PRESENTED AT THE FIRST.

NOTE, HOWEVER, THE ABSENCE OF A PARAGRAPH EACH ON DIRECTING, LIGHTING, AND SCENIC DESIGN. ONE OF THESE ELEMENTS MIGHT HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT IF IT DID NOT CONTRIBUTE IN A SIGNIFICANT WAY, BUT NOT ALL THREE--SO ONLY TWO OF FIVE ELEMENTS WERE DISCUSSED IN THIS PAPER, ALONG WITH A VERY NICE DISCUSSION OF THE THEME(S) OF THE PLAY.

I hope this helps you! MANY THANKS to the student who submitted it for letting us pick it apart.

This is the end of the workshop, please see activity summary .

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, October 07). Literary Arts of Theatre. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/Theatre_Arts/Understanding_Theatre/Literary_Arts_of_Theatre_4.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License