Theatre Thoughts' Best of 2022 (Juliana's Thoughts)
As the end of the year starts to come to a close, we’re releasing some of our teams’ thoughts on their favourite productions from 2022! Continuing on, we next get to enjoy our reviewer, Juliana's, thoughts on the best of theatre from the year that was.
I didn’t see everything, and I only saw shows in Sydney (sadly). So please note – this list is utterly and completely subjective. These are the shows that instantly sprang to mind when I started to reminisce about my favourite live performances of 2022.
Best Fringe - Solo
It's a tie from the Seymour Centre, Sydney!
Written and performed by Ally Morgan
SCATTERGUN AFTER THE DEATH OF RŪAUMOKO
Written and performed by Ana Chaya Scotney
I loved both these performances for so many reasons. Young women writing and performing at a high level of skill and sophistication; both used language, voice, music, and movement to express their totally engaging shows. Best of all they projected joy, strength, resilience, and just good old talent. Ally Morgan served up a musical banquet: self-aware, ironic, but sweet with the hope of youth and bitter with the aftertaste of harsh reality. Ana Chaya Scotney had the grace of a ballerina but the solid heft of soldier. It was wonderful to watch her move, and to submerge in her poetry, in a dark and complicated performance, leavened with classic Kiwi dry self-deprecating humour and a refusal to just accept things as they are.
Read my full reviews here.
Presented by Slanted Theatre, Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville
This young budding all-Asian company put on two short plays in Marrickville and they were really truly clever and enjoyable. Sure, the productions were a bit raw, sure the actors are finding their feet and voices, and sure the productions are a bit unpolished, but they evoked the magical engagement that only live performance can achieve. Congratulations to Tiffany Wong, Aaron Cornelius and their crew in their brave new world of anti-tokenism and supporting emerging Asian casts and creatives. Maybe one day we’ll just be able to watch people of all races and backgrounds just acting seamlessly in great productions without having to be classified.
Read my full review here.
BEST MAIN STAGE
STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE
By Robert Louis Stevenson, Sydney Theatre Company
At the well-funded big end of town, at least they are putting the money to good use. Two fantastic actors Matthew Backer and Ewen Leslie (who used to serve me beer at the Old Fitz in days of yore) threw their whole hearts and considerably versatile acting chops into this complicated technical bonanza. For me it all worked perfectly – a seamless integration of human talent augmented by digital enhancements, to produce an experience much much greater than the sum of the parts. Funny, dark, melodramatic – a perfect rendition of the tone and style of the original book.
See STC's full 2023 slate here.
BEST STANDUP COMEDY
At the Enmore and then at the Metro, Sydney
We can’t get enough of Luke Heggie in our house. Two shows this year, and we’ve got our tickets booked for next year at the Enmore again already. Luke has a brilliant comic persona of the flabbergasted tradie, the salt of the earth man of the tools who looks around him at the modern world in disbelief at our shallow self serving absurdity. Sometimes he used a stiletto, sometimes he uses a ball peen hammer to dismantle contemporary human foibles but no matter what he uses it’s always utterly hilarious and brilliantly insightful. Can’t wait for the next show – the publicity says "You shouldn't come to this show if you refer to something you've done as an epic journey despite going nowhere". Yay Luke.
Find Luke's upcoming shows here.
Written and performed by Ash Flanders, Griffin Theatre, Kings Cross
Who needs David Sedaris or Jacques Tati when you’ve got Ash Flanders? Ash is a master of timing, of holding the audience's eyeballs, of breaking the fourth wall and of just, well, theatre. He has people chortling just by the way he drank three cups of water from a water cooler. He’s just as good with language as he is with physical comedy - his skill in such that he can turn on a dime, using a kind of chiaroscuro of language to foreground the comic in the tragic, and vice versa. Bravo, Ash!
Read my full review here.
By Charlotte Bronte, adapted and created by Shake & Stir Theatre Co, Riverside Theatre, Parramatta.
I read this novel when I was 10 and have been re-reading it ever since (that’s a long time unfortunately). This multi-level, multi-faceted and multi-tasking performance by three highly talented actors was breath-taking – it was a masterclass in repertory ensemble performance. We saw Maddison Burridge as Jane the night we attended, and Julian Garner and Hilary Harrison completed the outstandingly talented trio who played all the characters. The sets, costumes, design, sound, and visual effects were all wonderful and artfully integrated by director Michael Futcher to create a perfect evening’s performance. I wish – like the book – I could see it again and again.
Read my full review here.