It’s been a heck of a year for theatre, with some huge ups and twice as huge downs. Please enjoy the best things I saw from the cheap seats in 2021:
5. THE WOMAN IN BLACK (ENSEMBLE THEATRE)
Now I’m not usually a fan of horror or thriller, but The Woman in Black had me screaming and gasping into the dark. The intimate setting that the Ensemble Theatre provides was ideal for this show! Special mention to the eerie bell that rang us into our seats, and the amazing use of transparent curtains and slamming doors. This was well worth the terrifying 1.5hr drive home in the dead of night. You can read more in my full review here.
4. FANGIRLS (ILLAWARRA PERFORMING ARTS CENTRE)
Fangirls is positively unmissable – a new generation of musicals for the Harry Styles and One Direction fans in everyone’s heart. I can still hear the line “silly little girls” ringing in my ears, and as a silly little girl myself I felt right at home. I hear whispers that the production will be back in 2022, so if you can snag yourself a ticket somewhere near you – do it! You can read our review of this production here.
3. THE 7 STAGES OF GRIEVING (SYDNEY THEATRE COMPANY)
I bought a season ticket to STC’s 2021 season, and The 7 Stages of Grieving was the only show I actually got to see before the months and months of lockdown in NSW. I took my partner, who is very new to theatre, and this show had her ready to start yelling and protesting in the streets. A very special production of a show with a deep history in the Indigenous theatre tradition, the onstage black middens with white shells and glittering stage were particularly beautiful. A new ending was just what we didn’t know we needed – a radical act of beauty, pain, love and joy. I particularly liked the Saturday Paper’s review that you can read here.
2. HANNAH GADSBY’S BODY OF WORK (JOAN SUTHERLAND THEATRE, SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE)
Although not technically theatre, Hannah Gadsby’s Body of Work had me itching to give a standing ovation right in the middle of the 1.5-hour comedy special. Beautifully rounded and executed, Hannah gives an incredible insight into her life and brings us from poverty, and abusive relationships right through to an absurdly set marriage proposal. Quite possibly the best “love story” and “feel-good show” in comedy I have ever seen, this is well worth a watch if you can catch it.
1. THE BOOMKAK PANTO (BELVOIR ST THEATRE)
What more can I say about The Boomkak Panto than I haven’t said already in my review for this site? A joyful, wonderful, ridiculous romp through the dust of the fictional Australian outback, I bought tickets to my second sitting as soon as I walked out of my first! Virginia Gay is a force to be reckoned with, and my advice is to see everything she has to offer and warp your brain in the best way possible.
HONOURABLE MENTION: TICK, TICK… BOOM! (NETFLIX)
This list wouldn’t be complete without at least one Netflix show, considering the hours and hours I spent in my house in front of the TV during lockdown! Tick, tick… BOOM! as directed by Lin Manuel Miranda and starring the inimitable Andrew Garfield was absolutely fantastic. It had me in tears and awe, and the unique transformation it takes from stage to film gives new meaning to the genre of “movie musical”. If you haven’t seen ANY theatre this year, take a couple of hours out of your day to sit down with some popcorn and tissues and watch this film.
2022 NEW YEARS RESOLUTION
In 2022 I can’t wait to actually see every show I book tickets for! I’m especially looking forward to seeing STC’s The Picture of Dorian Gray and Blithe Spirit, and hopefully I’ll get down to Melbourne to see Virginia Gay’s Cyrano.