A model response: Transactional Writing – review. EDEXCEL IGCSE



You edit the school magazine. Write a review of the recent school play performance for publication in the magazine.


As you plan, consider the register and tone. This will be dictated by your audience. Since most such magazines are a source of PR for the school the audience will include staff and parents and will, therefore require a formal tone and even if the show is not excellent, you can not really be hyper critical. This might be a case for staying on the positive side of the review.


Choose a play you know. You will not be able to write a sensible review in the allotted time if you have to think of everything from scratch.


Take a position and show your opinions

Alter the perspective by moving from the general to the specific

Ensure names are given in full for formality

Describe the events you choose to include

Aim for Inform, explain, describe to be obvious – short and concise information text becomes more florid in description

Include speech

Remember that a school magazine is publicity. Big up the school…


Variety is all in AO5 – think of the ‘how’ as much as the ‘what’. This matters.


Review: An Inspector Calls. Ryan Theatre, June 22nd-24th 2020.  (magazines have headlines)

In the last weeks of term, the school play, J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls, played to packed houses in the Ryan Theatre.  It is clear that Mr jones’ gamble in presenting a work so associated with GCSE examinations paid off handsomely.

From the moment the lights went up on the set – the family sitting eating their evening meal, dressed impeccably in white tie and evening dresses, the quality of this production was clear: Mr Rao’s simple but detailed set presented a typical interior of a large suburban home such as many of us who live in Pinner are familiar with. Every detail, from the cutlery to the pictures on the walls (painted by A level students for the occasion) was perfect at capturing the smug complacency of the Birling family.

Arthur Birling, the pompous patriarch of the Birling family was played by James MacMillan in Year 11. He had worked hard to capture the posture of this character – his fat-suit gave him a believable paunch and the use (apparently) of nappies under his trousers allowed him to present the movements of an overweight, middle aged man, so far removed from the boy who holds the Under 16 100 meters record. His delivery of his ‘Titanic’ speech in Act 1 was masterly.

However, biggest credit goes to the portrayal of Sybil Birling by Sanjiv Javed in the Upper 6th. Sanjiv has long been a stalwart of our shows – his performance as Bottom last year lives long in the memory – but the idea of playing a middle-aged woman offered him a new challenge. And he met it brilliantly! This was no drag act, but a performance of depth, and also one which gained sympathy as she realised her family was collapsing around her. Bravo.

Elsewhere, our guests from St Hilda’s performed with aplomb as Sheila and as the ghost of Eva, seen in an entr’acte written especially for this production by Mr Crumb, the Head of English. This departure from the text provoked interested comment. Several year 11 students were eager to comment. Tommy Box was particularly enthusiastic: ‘Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.’ He said, ’It was amazing to hear the voice of Eva in that way.’ Congratulations to Maisie Armstrong and Vidhu Sharma.

Jason Kane oozed charm as Gerald, and despite an accident with the decanter of port in Act 1 , the youngest member of the cast, George Smithies (year 8!) was an excellent Eric who grew in confidence almost visibly as the show went on.

Too often, school productions seem to come together by a process of luck and ‘Dr Greasepaint’. This show was different: this show would have graced any professional theatre. Many congratulations to all concerned.


This may not be perfect. It is not meant to be, but I have written it to challenge my Year 11s to improve it and to consider their own approaches to this kind of task.  Enjoy the exploration.