My Auckland theatre year was curtailed by travel so I only got to see 46 shows before the end of July (annoyingly missing another 7 due to work / illness) so this isn’t as comprehensive as usual. Here are the best shows and staging I saw in the first half of 2018.
Conversations with Dead Relatives, Basement
I found other shows as enjoyable as this but few stuck with me for as long afterwards. The themes of remembrance, the role of families in this, and truth versus a good story were fascinating, and well captured.
Possibly more performance art than theatre, but either way this was entertaining and surprisingly hypnotic. I wish I’d been able to watch every night but my two experiences were memorable. The first ended with Sam taking a nasty tumble, very Blair Witch, the second when I happened to be running to Aotea Centre as Sam was running from the Basement, and I was able to join for a brief run down to the Civic, unexpected audience participation!
Such Stuff As Dreams, Te Pou
What a wonderful show, with exquisite writing, lively performances, and imaginative staging. The combination of mental health, laugh out loud comedy, Paradise Lost, trappist beer, and armadillos came together beautifully.
First World Problems, Basement
An unexpected delight, and insight into Indian life in Auckland, with by far the largest cast I’ve ever seen upstairs at the Basement. Each had their chance to shine, with an impressively high standard across pieces ranging from comedy to music to drama.
Run Rabbit, Basement
A tour de force by Victoria Abbot, with a performance by turns mischievous, haunting, witty and thought provoking. Run Rabbit was a powerful exploration of the treatment of women by men over the centuries, drawing on the spirit of her feisty ancestor Black Agnes.
Body Double, Q Theatre
A technical and atmospheric marvel, making great use of live video to provide different perspectives. I was less keen on the chicken though…
Tea, Q Theatre
An ambitious and impressively staged multigenerational tale of Sri Lanka, with seamless transitions between different eras, and effective and atmospheric set design by Tiffany Singh.
Dope, Te Pou
The best use of music in a show I saw this year, courtesy of Lane Twigden and Jake Love on drums, guitar and effects. They perfectly complemented this tale of addiction, with mellow, trippy and hypnotic groves. Theatre is often much better with a soundtrack!
For some historical perspective best ofs for the previous three years can be found in the theatre section.