Best of 2016 – Auckland Theatre performances

New Zealand is home to some wonderful actors, and many of them tread the boards of Auckland theatres. To accompany my favourite shows of 2016, in chronological order here were the standout performances for me from the more than 70 shows I saw this year.


Chris Parker in No More Dancing In The Good Room, Q Theatre
Hard to avoid Mr. Parker this year (Milky Bits, Camping, Snort, The Green Effect, Mia Blonde and no doubt more I missed) but this was his emotional highlight, particularly during the finale as he danced with his younger self, comic in places but mainly touching. Bonus points for performing a show filled with dancing on a broken foot.

Matt Baker in Hungover, Basement Theatre
Better known as a theatre reviewer but Matt impressed as the dramatic heart of this little gem of modern cabaret, in particular his emotive rendition of Tainted Love.

Alice Canton in WHITE / OTHER, Basement Theatre
A powerful statement on race, self and belonging, delivered with conviction and passion, particularly toward the emotive end, channeling personal experience to bring a palatably electric atmosphere to the theatre.

Brianna Jude and James Corcoran in Bare, The Pumphouse
Bare is a gift for ambitious actors, with 24 characters, made distinct and believable by this talented pair, who demonstrated a huge range from the comic to the tragic. My friend honestly thought there were three actors…


Natalie Medlock in The Voice in My Head, Basement Theatre
Natalie brought to life five distinctly different characters and eras, from a turn of the century English lady to a clone in 2050, via the Holocust, 50s America and modern Australia, in a beautifully measured solo performance.

Alistair Browning in Four Flat Whites in Italy, The Pumphouse
The wonderfully endearing heart to Roger Hall’s tale of the retiree OE experience, Alistair Browning gave the most likeable performance of the year, turning a possible caricature into a fully realised person.

Tim Earl in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Q Theatre
Helped to a degree by not having seen him in anything before, but Tim turned in a fully credible performance as the autistic Christopher. Reminding me a little of Patrick Carroll in The Book of Everything, this should a breakout role for him.

Jack Buchanan in Mating in Captivity, Basement Theatre
Endearingly bemused, with a somewhat literal sense of logic, Rob is a great character, brought brilliantly to life by Jack. He also turned in a star performance in Don Juan, with both showing a level of innocent insolence, on the right side of charming.


Jennifer Ludlam in Boys Will Be Boys, Q Theatre
By some margin the most convincing performance in this blackly if crudely satirical drama, a by turns terrifying and tender portrayal of a senior partner in an currency trading firm. Having spent years in professional services firms myself, I could relate.

Lucy Suttor in Close City, Basement Theatre
The standout non-speaking role of the year (granted there wasn’t a huge amount of competition), but really game on Lucy for spending an hour and a half a night (for two weeks) crawling around the floor in a mermaid costume, gagged by a ball for much of the show, while being verbally abused by Thomas Sainsbury’s psychotic Swede.

Hayley Sproull in Vanilla Miraka, Basement Theatre
From comedy and song to drama and funerals this was a personal and moving performance, beautifully paced as she told the so bizarre it must be true story of the funeral of her grandmother.

Bronwyn Ensor in Vernon God Little, Basement Theatre
In a strong year for the Actors’ Program, Brownwyn was the standout performance for me, as Vernon’s somewhat overwrought and refrigerator obsessed mother Doris, in this topical black comedy.

What do you think of this selection? Anything you loved that I either missed or didn’t mention?

Author: jontycrane

4 thoughts on “Best of 2016 – Auckland Theatre performances

  1. Not to rob of any of these talented humans that you listed in your picks, I think most of them gave very commendable breakout performances and deserve to be on this list.

    it would be great if perhaps next year we may see some BAME artists on you list too. There were some extraordinary Maori, Pasifika and Asian artists creating world class work this year too, Maybe you didn’t see any of those works, or perhaps none of these works or artist were up to your standard.

    Its devastating and heartbreaking for young practitioners to see and to be reminded that we do indeed work in a very Eurocentric industry. The Auckland Theatre awards has one actor identifying as ‘other’ in their nomination for a very oddly named award category and now this.

    1. Fair comment James. I’m a fan of Massive Company (The Wholehearted, The Island), but they were more essemble shows, Rob did great with Shot Bro, and Kura Forrester (Camping and Perplex) is a star.

      Despite seeing ~75 shows I failed to make (due to not being in town) Brown: It’s Complicated, La Vie Dans Une Marionette, and Glimmer, all of which I heard great things about.

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