We’re a bunch of theatre loving peeps here at Lost in Theatreland, so when we love a show – it becomes our whole personality and we won’t stop talking about it to everyone that will listen, and also those that won’t. 2022 was a year of incredible theatre, and it was the beginning of this very website. These are the team’s favourite shows of 2022, the show they saw, and fell in love with – but not necessarily shows they reviewed, simply the greatest show they watched this year.
BARBARA WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
It’s hard to talk about Prima Facie. Not only because the subject in itself is tough to face, but also because the whole thing is a masterclass in every sense. Writing, directing, and acting – because of this, it feels extremely real. Suzie Miller’s feral writing and Jodie Comer’s impeccable performance exposes the flaws of the legal system when judging sexual assault cases, it affected me so intensely I struggled to leave my seat when it ended. I couldn’t stop shaking, I just didn’t want to face reality, because I knew what I had just experienced was very current and true to so many outside and inside that theatre.
With a script that twists its timeline to follow Tessa on her rediscovery of the system she blindly believes in at first, and some surprising stage design moments that leave you gasping, Prima Facie entertains, teaches and haunts. And its power source is an unstoppable leading lady, who gets a tight grip on the audience from start to finish (Broadway audiences, you’re in for a treat!). From the moment Jodie walks on stage it’s like the world goes silent, and so it remains until the lights come on again, to get you out of your trance.
One woman on stage telling the story of so many others connects you to reality in a way that only art can do. The type of theatre that’s beautifully crafted, utilising the resources of the genre to their best potential, but also so relevant it shall never be forgotten.
GEORGE WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
ALL OF US
‘Being joyous is a political act.’ Such is the clarion call of Francesca Martinez’s astonishingly warm debut play that tackles the battle of compassion, care and imagination, against the oppressive forces of austerity. Martinez plays a charming, wise and emotionally grounded therapist with Cerebral Palsy, whose inspirational optimism is summed up in a life-affirming monologue about the gratitude she feels towards her body. The subject matter is treated so effectively, using forum theatre, humour and incredible scene writing to engage perspectives from many different lived experiences of disability. ‘It’s not about left or right. It’s about how we treat each other. That’s what politics is.’ I came out of it glowing. It was so beautiful, so angry, so funny and full of the stuff of life. Totally powerful and necessary theatre.
RACHEL WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
THE P WORD
Written by Waleed Akhtar, The P Word is a powerful, eye-opening play that I will never forget! The story follows two gay Pakistani men as their worlds collide. We see a blossoming friendship, romance, and the difficulties these two men face. What made this show so important and a standout for me was how they shared the reality of the UK’s hostile asylum seeker system, and particularly the turmoil LGBTQ+ asylum seekers face. Ahktar has a captivating method of storytelling that made me feel so many emotions! It also had all the elements of a typical romantic comedy – there was humour, heartbreak, and hope!
From their shared love for Bollywood dramas to the cute trip to Brighton, Waleed Ahktar and Esh Alladi’s performances as Billy and Zafar had me so invested, and I was rooting for their fairytale ending. It’s not often a show brings me to tears, but The P Word managed to do just that. Amongst the comedy and romance, Ahktar never strayed from tough topics such as homophobia, internalised racism, and body image. The P Word poignantly points out that there isn’t always a happily-ever-after for LGBTQ+ asylum seekers.
This is my show of the year! And I must shout out Bush Theatre for consistently putting on amazing shows and giving underrepresented stories a platform! Read Amy’s review of The P Word here!
ZUZA WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
MY NEIGHBOUR TOTORO
This was probably the most magical and childhood-reminiscent experience of the year for me. The creative team went out of their way, engaging the famous Jim Henson’s Creature Shop to create a never-before-seen type of puppetry on stage. Studio Ghibli characters showcased in the performance ranged from tiny, fluffy sootsprites to a huge – and I mean really enormous – Totoro. I had a feeling that this show set a new benchmark in puppetry and what’s even possible to execute whilst translating an anime story into a live show. It was the kind of experience that made me text all my friends and ask them to buy tickets to see it during the interval – if only it wasn’t already fully sold out! Fingers crossed Totoro and his friends return to London for another run soon, so more people could indulge in this incredible production. You can read Amy’s review of the show here!
JILL WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
(AND MOST OTHER GAY SHOWS SHE’S SEEN THIS YEAR!)
Okay okay, I know I’ve already written about it twice, but Starcrossed is not just my favourite show of the year; it’s my favourite show of all time. Can I please have a revival, a pro shot, a play text…anything?! The depth Tommy Sim’ann (Tybalt) and Connor Delves (Mercutio) brought to their originally one-dimensional characters was nothing short of phenomenal. To have queerness so eloquently represented in a time of zero representation was incredibly important to the queer and Shakespeare-lovers communities. In fact, I saw so many amazing shows this year representing queerness in different ways: Cruise’s love letter to 1980s London and its homage to those who lived through it and to those who passed away; Rapture’s raw and beautiful snapshot of the modern queer experience; Lesbian Space Crime’s hilarious account of the true story of Anne McClain’s wrongful removal of the first all female spacewalk; and so many more LGBTQI+ musicals and plays that have touched the hearts of queer people and allies in London. I can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store! Read Jill’s review of Starcrossed here!
ANNE WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE
My top show of 2022 was The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Not only, because this stage adaption of one of my favorite Neil Gaiman was the first play I watched after officially moving to London (it was special), but also because of it’s richness in story telling and all the different layers Joel Horwood and team have added to it. The story stays close to the book, we meet a man who returns to his childhood home and gets transported back to his 12th birthday when his world changed upon his remarkable friend Lettie Hemlock claiming this pond is not a pond. It is an ocean! Evil forces, family bonds and friendship paired with a little magic. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a remarkable story about growing up and how that process interferes with cherished childhood memories. It sets out the magical imagination of children against the often rationalised point of view of adults. Something that really gets you thinking. What I loved most was the complex, yet not overwhelming stage design by Fly Davis as well as the incredible sound design by Ian Dickinson, who sent shivers up and down my spine. And the acting! Oh boy, when you see child actors on stage that deliver on such a dark and sincere play with that much variety in expression, intonation and emotion, you are in for a treat. James Bamford (The Boy) and Nia Towle (Lettie Hempstock) did a fantastic job. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is currently on tour until September 2023 and I am already planning a trip or two.
AMY WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
MY SON’S A QUEER (BUT WHAT CAN YOU DO?)
If you knew me, you’d probably be bored of me talking about it. But I adore My Sons A Queer. It’s made me laugh and sob all three times I went to see the show this year. After following Rob Madge on social media for a while, I was intrigued by the show at the Fringe, knowing it had won the WhatsOnStage award – and it turned out to be a highlight of the Fringe for me. I immediately booked tickets to see the show in my home town with my mum. And took my besties to see it when the show got its west end transfer. MSAQ is an uplifting, heartwarming show that celebrates queerness and dismantles the gender binary. At its heart this show encourages you to live your truth, be authentically you, and teaches us to celebrate our differences. Home videos are seamlessly interwoven throughout the performance, which proves a stroke of genius. Quite simply, Rob Madge is wonderful, and I’m so happy this show is returning, as we need something joyful in the West End – and more representation of trans and non binary people on main stages. This should be on your to watch list for 2023, no doubt! Read my review in full here!
I also just want to quickly mention (as I’m too indecisive to choose just one show) Iphigenia in Splott, a show that felt intensely topical as it tackles austerity, the current state of our National Health Service, social injustice, class issues and stereotypes. Sophie Melville is a force to be reckoned with, providing a masterclass performance that’s powered with emotion, and probably the best performance I’ve seen these year. This play moved me so strongly, and stayed on my mind long after I’d left the theatre. Great theatre should provoke thought – and this does exactly that. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, Iphigenia in Splott, could be the play of our time. You can read Amy’s review here!
JORDAN WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
THE CHOIR OF MAN
My favourite show of the year has to be The Choir of Man. After reopening in October after a highly successful West End debut, The Choir of Man has risen to high levels of success in the most recent run, with shows commonly being sold out and many raving reviews. The Choir of Man, created by Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay with musical arrangements and orchestrations by Jack Blume, features an array of songs from different artists, with something for everyone. The music ranges from Queen to Sia to Adele to Guns & Roses. This music is taken to new heights by insane harmonies and live instruments of all varieties being performed by the members on the stage. Plus all this wonder takes place at a pub! With working bars, free beers and sing-a-longs, this show has something for everyone and is an absolute must see in the new year.
TOM WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
As this adroitly, succinctly scripted work so clearly shows, consensus is a near-impossible condition to reach in times where every opinion must be considered and every fringe group must be acknowledged, all the better to achieve fair and balanced policies. Yet so often, with wilful, selfish and smug humans involved, only polarisation, recrimination and character assassination emerge from discussion, complicating agreement. An outbreak of mumps in a small (self-satisfied) liberal arts college leads to lockdown and crisis amongst faculty, parents and students when an imposed vaccination programme bitterly splits the population into those who support and oppose the process. It is to playwright Johnathan Spector’s credit that each perspective is understood with clarity and sympathy, no one is painted in heavy-handed colours, no one is absolutely villainous nor virtuous. Helen Hunt is particularly skilled at presenting the great personal tragedy that fuels her rigid perspective, isolating her in its stony grip, unable to comprehend outside its parameters.
That this was written long before Covid bulldozed its way onto the global stage is shockingly prescient. A riotous sequence in which a well-intentioned community meeting over Zoom gradually devolves into sour exchanges and childish name-calling (a recurring emoji is utilised to hilariously devastating comic effect) is a standout moment in the 2022 theatre year, sardonically brilliant and a harrowingly sad example of the precarious state of contemporary communication. The administration’s faults, failures and limitations are exposed by this extreme event, a true test of values and ethics. Board members will come and go, there will be those who lead then fall from favour, all replaced in turn, a cycle repeated. Spector makes certain to see the human first, agenda second, and locates the funny in the awful, absurd circus.
JENNY WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
KINKY BOOTS THE MUSICAL IN CONCERT
I have seen 56 shows this year including 2 brand new musicals, a range of dance shows, pantos and 16 reviews for LIT! The show that stays in my memory as a moment to say ‘I was there’ is the Kinky Boots Concert at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Cedrick Neal (who I also saw in Back to the Future in the weeks before) was captivating as Lola/Simon. His earnest, heartfelt rendition of ‘Hold Me In Your Heart’ earned a standing ovation, lasting minutes. It was stunning with audience members (including myself) wiping away tears. Courtney Bowman (who I was lucky enough to see in Six) was stunning, funny and relatable with a stunning voice. Joel Harper-Jackson was just a delight as Charlie. I really enjoy a concert show because there’s no hiding behind sets, costumes or any of the other magic a full production can bring with it. Therefore the book, score, and performances are at the forefront and in the case of Kinky Boots the audience were not left wanting! It was a joyful celebration of acceptance. And great shoes. It is a memory I will cherish. You can read Jenny’s review of the show here!
VAL WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT…
My favorite show of 2022 has to be Operation Mincemeat! I initially saw it at Southwark Playhouse in January and was blown away by such a talented cast, clever storytelling and all very much faithful to the real life story. If you missed Operation Mincemeat during its limited runs, fear not because it’s opening in the West End in March 2023!
What was your favourite show of the year? Tell us in the comments.
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