In 2020 and
2021, I relished any and all theatre I got to see because shows were so few and
far between. I think I only saw ten shows in total in 2020 and not much
more last year.
still affected by COVID, from low numbers at the start of the year because of
the wave in January, to shows pushed and pulled and cancelled throughout. If
the audiences were back, cast and crew continued to be struck down and you
never knew if the show you had booked for tomorrow would happen or not.
companies produced shows that had been waiting to debut for two or three years.
Small theatres took baby steps to announce seasons, sometimes half a year at a
time. Indie companies had to be agile when it came to postponing – some started
their seasons and had to find time and space to regroup later.
of theatre in Melbourne in 2022 was strong, though. At all levels. If the worst
part of COVID was not having theatre at all, perhaps having more time allowed
shows to simmer longer and they debuted stronger than they might have
I feel like
we’ve welcomed-back theatre three or four times over these past few years and
the sector still feels hesitant in some respects, but the shows themselves have
proven that theatre-makers are thrilled to be back and have some pure theatrical
gems to show off.
list of my Favourite Theatre of 2022 – along with some shows from 2020 and 2021
which have stayed with me.
The lists, as
ever, are in alphabetical order. (Any shows I’ve seen in previous years in the
same production are not eligible, sorry Hamilton in Melbourne. Your cast
Red Stitch (my review)
slippery, hard to grasp and so thrilling. A deep dive into the politics of our
post truth world.
Melbourne Theatre Company
of the classic play, this text woven by the wonderful Virginia Gay. The
production felt like piecing theatre back together as it grappled with the
problematic aspects of the original story.
Essential Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne (my review)
blistering feminist attack on the history we’ve been told was also full of joy.
Essential Theatre’s production was a true next step in the company’s work and I’m
so glad they brought this play to Melbourne.
Voice – Theatre Works
hard to go past a solo performance by Jane Montgomery Griffiths and this was a
striking production of the Jean Cocteau play.
Malthouse Theatre (my review)
A smart, clever
exploration of cross-racial adoption; a clash of cultures bringing the humour
and the drama.
Alibrandi – Malthouse Theatre (my review)
novel on stage in a thoughtful, moving production by the Malthouse and Stephen
Lost – Bloomshed, Northcote Town Hall (my review)
take on the John Milton epic was one of the funniest things I saw on stage this
year and James Jackson’s work also dived deep into theology with some very
pointed satire. I really hope this one returns.
of Dorian Gray – Sydney Theatre Company, Arts Centre Melbourne
trying to get up to Sydney three or four times during 2020-21, there was always
the possibility that this show wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I saw this
show twice during its Melbourne run: once with Eryn Jean Norvill and once with stand-by
Nikki Shiels. Both women are among the best actors in the country and it was a
privilege to see both takes on an incredible adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s novel.
One of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen.
Stay Woke –
Malthouse Theatre (my review)
rendering of a conversation that feels very online – not-so-much about wokeness
but about how willing people are to step back and take stock before they rush
in to the discourse. Very smart. Very funny.
Traps – La
Mama (my review)
Strangio’s production of Caryl Churchill’s play was warm, inviting and made
sense of a text that tries its best to defy narrative shape or closure. A
moving piece of theatre and one of the highlights of La Mama’s first year back
after its devastating fire.
THE NEXT TEN
Melbourne Theatre Company
I saw a
production of this on the West End and I was not a fan. This production,
directed by Gary Abrahams, proves that a text can thrive under the right circumstances.
Loved this one.
in Paris – Arts Centre Melbourne (my review)
dramatic, funny and – in some moments of pure dance – exquisite.
– Red Stitch (my review)
must-see because of the lead performances of Dushan Philips and Christopher
Kirby in a play that remains sadly relevant in 2022.
Shit – The Butterfly Club
two-hander. Duelling monologues. Ostensibly about a new relationship, the text
spun out into an incisive breakdown of toxic masculinity. Wonderful.
Act of Kindness – Red Stitch (my review)
Melbourne and COVID, here’s a comedy about family and lockdown that is an
hilarious comedy on the state of the world and wild real estate prices in our
fair city. A raucous night at Red Stitch.
Sirens – A Voice
in My Hands, Melbourne Fringe (my review)
performance, beautifully directed and a text that combines such beautiful
detail about growing up queer in a country town.
Kiss. – Melbourne Theatre Company
monologues about teenagers changing the worlds they live in, inspired by real
life events. Thrilling stuff about how modern-day connections can start
Slutnik – Melbourne
Fringe (my review)
satire. Queer joy driven by pain. Hilarious.
Shout – Eleven Arms Theatre Company, Melbourne Fringe
site-specific, immersive work about the history of female publicans in
Melbourne. Such a delightful show.
Loves Britney – Melbourne Fringe (my review)
draws you in because it’s a love-letter to Britney Spears but then reveals that
maybe Britney is just the hook you get you to listen to a story about a
non-binary person of colour’s story about growing up queer in a conservative
country. Smart and insightful.
MEMORABLE SHOWS FROM 2020-21
in the Web – Red Stitch (2020), my review
Girls Lie – A Voice in My Hands, La Mama (2021), my review
Fortyfive Downstairs (2021)
Misconduct of the Middle Classes – Melbourne Theatre Company (2021)
SLUT – The Burrow
(2020), my review
Earth – Theatre Works (2020), my review
Genuine Moment – La Mama (2021), my review
Place – Melbourne Theatre Company (2020)
- Keith Gow, Theatre First