Leigh Aspire is an educational and cultural initiative designed to help our highest achieving students access high tariff universities.  

Play the Critic

‘Play the Critic’ is part of the Mousetrap Theatre Projects, a theatre education charity dedicated to bringing the magic of theatre into the lives of young people.  

Having watched ‘Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle’ on the evening of Tuesday 21st November, a group of year 12 Leigh Aspire students from Leigh Academy, The Leigh UTC, Stationers’ Crown Woods and Wilmington Academy then spent the day with playwright Simon Stephens and Guardian theatre critic Lyn Gardner, learning the art of theatre review. It was wonderful to see the extent to which students were able to explore their experience of the play, then confidently share their insights with the group.

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A Second Play

A few days later, armed with their new knowledge of how to write a review, the students  were given the opportunity to spend another evening watching a second play. They either watched ‘A Woman in Black’, ‘The Comedy About a Bank Robbery’ or ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’.  Students reported that they had thoroughly enjoyed the second plays, with comments including:

“It was great to get up to London, sit down with friends and enjoy such a well performed comedy.”

“Although the theatre was quite small, it added to the uneasiness of everything, would recommend!”

“It was great! It was very amusing and a very easy watch, which cleverly kept a strong story line and covered some hard topics such a suicide, all while remaining very funny.”

“It seriously was a nonstop laugh out loud play!”

“It was so much better than I expected!”

Drawing on the skills they had learned during the workshop, the students then wrote their reviews of the play they had watched and submitted them to Lyn Gardner, The Guardian critic.

One-to one feedback

Following the critic’s analysis of their reviews, the students were then given the fantastic opportunity of participating in a one-to-one feedback session with Lyn Gardner, where she discussed their reviews with them, talking about what they had done well, giving them constructive feedback and tips for future review writing.

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The Guardian critic, Lyn Gardner, was impressed by all the student’s reviews and enjoyed meeting them in their one-to-one sessions.

“I was very impressed with the students, not just by their high levels of ability but also by their politeness, willingness to defend their corner and take criticism. They were a lovely bunch: engaged, thoughtful and full of personality.”

The winning review

Despite Lyn believing that all reviews were well executed, she had to choose a winner, and one review in particular stood out for her.  She chose the review of ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ by Harry Edmundson, from Wilmington Academy.

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Harry’s prize is an exclusive opportunity to accompany Lyn to a ‘press showing’ of a new play.

Harry, who has aspirations to be a journalist, was extremely pleased with his prize and is looking forward to spending time with a professional theatre critic and learning from Lyn’s expertise.