Book Reviews

How do I Find Play Reviews?

Play reviews usually appear almost immediately after a play opens, and have enormous impact on the success of a play. Reviews can yield information about all aspects of a production, e.g. its direction, actors, costuming, scenery, etc. When you are looking for information about a director, for instance, play reviews can be a good source for tracking the director's career and reception by critics. (Play reviews appear usually long before dramatic criticism, which is more in-depth and which looks at the play as literature. If you need criticism of a play see the section on literary criticism.)
Here are some print resources to help you locate play reviews. These materials are all located in the Reference Room on the 2nd Floor.

Title/Call Number
What You Can Expect to Find:
American Drama Criticism: Interpretations, 1890-1977 and Supplements/
Ref Z1231 D7 P3 1979
American Drama Criticism provides citations to reviews of plays produced from 1890 - 1993. Reviews appeared in magazines, journals, and books, and are mixed together with critical articles.
Drama Criticism/
Ref PN1601 D59
Drama Criticism is a multi-volume set offering brief summaries of plays, brief notes on critical reception, reviews, and critical commentary. Reviews begin with those published after the initial production and proceed chronologically. In this set, you'll find well-known playwrights and plays from all nationalities.
New York Times Index/
Behind the Reference Desk
The New York Times Index covers articles from the New York Times going back to 1851. Play reviews can be found by going to the volume for the year the play was produced.
Prior to June 1905, look up "Amusements," then scan for the play title underneath theatre names.
From July 1905 - 1912, look up "Theatre - Reviews."
From 1913 - Sept. 1926, look up "Plays and Operas."
From Oct. 1926 - 1940, look up "Plays."
From 1941-1982, look up "Theatre - Reviews and Notes."
From 1983 - 2003, look up "Theatre," and find your play title in an alphabetical list after general articles on theatre.
Plays will generally be listed alphabetically by title underneath these headings, unless noted otherwise.
Poole's Index to Periodical literature (1802-1906)/
Behind the Reference Desk
Poole's Index covers articles from popular periodicals from 1802-1906. Play reviews can be found by going to the volume appropriate for the year the play was produced. Look up your playwright, then locate the title of the play. You may also use subject headings like Theatre or Drama. The library owns 2 editions; be sure to check both.
Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature/
Behind the Reference Desk
The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature covers articles from many popular periodicals such as Time, Newsweek and Life. Play reviews can be found by going to the volume for the year the play was released and looking up the title of the play. The Guide will provide citation information for finding the full-length critique.

Now, let's check out the electronic resources that can help us find play reviews.

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