Last Updated on 29th December 2022
Paul T Davies took a look at the theatre he saw in 2022 and lists his critic’s choice Top 10 shows.
2022 felt like the year that theatre began tentatively emerging from the wings and begin to claim centre stage once more. Sure, there were last-minute cancellations, cast withdrawals, and disappointing productions. And there are huge challenges ahead for the sector and for audiences. But I was lucky to see some great work., and here’s my Critic’s Choice top ten of the year, as seen by me!
1. ALL OF US. NATIONAL THEATRE.
For me, this was the year that inclusivity took a step forward. (See also some choices below). It might have just been by selection of productions, but there seemed to be more diverse talent being given more opportunities. Forged from lived experience, Francesca Martinez’s searing, funny, powerful and angry play did not let the audience off the hook in it’s depiction of PIP assessments on disabled people. Its compassion makes it my New Play of The Year.
REVIEW: All Of Us, National Theatre (Dorfman Theatre)✭✭✭✭✭
I didn’t get to review it, but the revival confirmed my opinion that this is the best play of the Twenty-First Century. and Mark Rylance the best actor. The years had matured the play even further, a wonderful ensemble and an unforgettable experience.
3. JACK ABSOLUTE FLIES AGAIN. (National Theatre)
There was a great deal of snootiness towards this reinvention of The Rivals by Richard Bean and Oliver Chris, but I loved this raucous evening at the theatre! I felt that all restraints were lifted, and Caroline Quentin was an unforgettable Mrs. Malaprop, I still quote some of her lines when I think I can get away with it! Hugely enjoyable.
REVIEW: Jack Absolute Flies Again, National Theatre ✭✭✭✭✭
4. REASON’S YOU SHOULDN’T LOVE ME. (On Tour/Paines Plough.)
Amy Trigg’s monologue was direct, witty, thought-provoking and inspirational. Playing Juno, she exposes the bigotry and sexism of everyday life, smiling “like a clown who has been sacked from the circus.” A tour de force.
REVIEW: Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me, Mercury Theatre Colchester ✭✭✭✭✭ (britishtheatre.com)
5. GRAV (EDINBURGH Fringe Festival.)
Great to be back at the Edinburgh Festival. Not a new play, but I finally caught up with Owen Thomas’s beautiful play about Wales rugby legend Ray Gravell. A perfect script scrummed down with a perfect actor, and my Welsh heart sang and my Welsh tears fell. Beautiful work.
REVIEW: Grav , Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe ✭✭✭✭✭ (britishtheatre.com)
6. PSYCHODRAMA (Edinburgh Fringe)
I hope Matt Wilkinson’s play has more life outside of the festival. An actress auditions for a new stage version of Psycho, and the line between reality and theatre becomes increasingly blurred. Emily Bruni was mesmerising, and the twists in the tale were involving and stunning.
REVIEW: Psychodrama, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe ✭✭✭✭✭ (britishtheatre.com)
7. MAD HOUSE. (West End)
The acting triumvirate of David Harbour, Bill Pullman and Akiya Henry drove Theresa Rebeck’s play, with dark hints of Letts and McDonough! The dialogue was sharp and sarcastic, and the pace of the production was full on.
REVIEW: Mad House, Ambassadors Theatre London ✭✭✭✭✭ (britishtheatre.com)
8. THE PARADIS FILES (GRAEAE)
Teeming with originality, Graeae’s opera of “The Blind Enchantress”, Maria Theresia von Paradis, told a story that needs to be known more, and the stage was filled with outstanding talent.
REVIEW: The Paradis Files, Mercury Theatre Colchester ✭✭✭✭✭
9. JORDAN GRAY- IS IT A BIRD?
I missed it in Edinburgh, but so glad I caught it at Soho theatre, (before the performance at The London Palladium!), everything you may have heard about this show is true- hilarious, thought provoking and stunning! Do not miss the further adventures of Jordan Gray!
10- FOR QUEEN AND COUNTRY. (ARMY AT THE fringe, Edinburgh).
An openly gay man, dropped behind enemy lines and working as a drag queen in Paris during the Nazi occupation? The story of Denis Rake needs to be more well known, perfect for the screen as well as this remarkable play.
REVIEW: For Queen and Country, Drill Hall, Army at the Fringe ✭✭✭✭✭
As we move forward tentatively into the New Year, let’s hope creativity will still thrive under the most difficult circumstances. Best wishes and may all your drama be on stage!
Check our REVIEWS section for our Critic’s Choice on a regular basis.