So you’ve been given a review writing task. But how do you describe all of those elements of theatre without using the same words multiple times?
Here’s a list of some different words to use in your review writing.
General adjectives associated with performance:
Outrageous, shocking, persuasive, compelling, inspiring, affecting, absorbing, daring, provocative, obscure, delightful, captivating, morbid, surreal, challenging, nostalgic, complex, spectacular, chilling, foreboding, enchanting, astonishing.
 
Words to describe the mood or tone:
Entertaining, facetious, sensational, didactic, bombastic, forceful, servile, persuasive, chauvinistic, nostalgic, querulous, guarded, indifferent, sensible, earnest, fervent, wistful, embittered, detached, sincere, tolerant, jocular, cautious, pensive, thoughtful, passionate, conservative, arrogant, critical, ponderous, antagonistic, ardent, admiring, disrespectful, bitter, cynical, satirical, sardonic, sarcastic, quizzical, ironical, anxious, resentful, disappointing, cautious, neutral, despondent, pessimistic
 
Words to describe the direction:
Skilled, purposeful, exciting, clever, thought-provoking, challenging, stimulating, visually exciting, aesthetic, earnest, cautious, sincere, sensitive, sensitive, aggressive, theatrical, dynamic, confident, bold, adventurous, conservative, lacklustre, predictable.
 
Words to describe the set:
Elaborate, realistic, understated, rough, skeletal, simplistic, minimal, abstract, naturalistic, unrealistic, cubist, surreal, stylised, traditional, representational, imaginative, lush, dense, open, vivid, jagged, symbolic, shiny, lavish, detailed, sparse, functional, elegant, delicate, durable, romantic, impressionist, expressionist.
 
Words to describe costumes:
Outrageous, transforming, flattering, stylish, elegant, chic, bright, dull, plain, elaborate, ornate, evil, revealing, tailored, period, symbolic, ornate, vivid, lavish, stylised, colourful, extravagance, simplistic, beautiful, dainty, alluring, luxurious.
 
Words to describe the makeup:
Skilfully applied, realistic, period, fantastical, shocking, simple, elaborate, vivid, stylised, abstract, traditional, clever, minimal.
 
Words to describe sound:
Menacing, rhythmical, repetitive, haunting, eerie, overpowering, complementary, engulfing, pulsating, lapping, trickling, swishing, blaring, lyrical, grating.
 
Words to describe lighting and effects:
Simplistic, minimal, abstract, eerie, dull, gloomy, bright, majestic, shocking, forbidding, shadowy, luminous, flickering, twinkling, hypnotic, pulsating, flashing, thematic.
 
Words to describe style and/or genre:
Comedy, classical, symbolic, expressionistic, absurdist, naturalistic, representational, tragic, comic, satirical, melodramatic, surreal, period, traditional, contemporary, existentialist, avant-garde, romantic, allegorical, farcical.
 
Words to describe character:
Miserly, clumsy, careless, conceited, cocky, ambitious, mean, merciful, confident, generous, gracious, greedy, gregarious, garrulous, noble, needy, humble, grotesque, irritable, lazy, loyal, patient, pragmatic, placid, serious, eccentric, quarrelsome, industrious, petulant, enlightened, reliable, determined, cruel, arrogant, sophisticated, slovenly, vivacious, cantankerous, fussy, obsessive, unpredictable, neurotic, uncouth, vicious, mature, shrewd, insular, feminie, effeminate, calculating, callous, self-indulgent, flippant, jaded, compassionate, zealous, brash.
 
Words to describe performance:
Dynamic, disciplined, pedestrian, uninspired, complex, flat, skilful, agile, versatile, emotive, compelling, surprising, delightful, demanding, under-stated, lively, energetic, restrained, inspired.
 
Words instead of ‘good’:
Capable, quality, fine, adept, accomplished, masterly, skilful, seasoned, vigorous, adept, high-standard, superior, skilled, proficient, choice, sound, supreme, prominent, pre-eminent, potent, important, distinguished, illustrious, influential, awe-inspiring, grand, splendid, majestic, monumental, resplendent, brilliant, impressive, magnificent, imposing, enjoyable, profound.
 
Words instead of ‘effective’:
Powerful, practical, emphatic, moving, affecting, compelling, competent, impressive, potent, striking, telling, cutting, penetrating, sharp, successful, efficacious.