The End of Winter

AFF24 Jane Phegan in The End of Winter photo by Clare HawleyIs winter your favourite season? With Adelaide’s recent heat – especially jarring to the influx of 10,000 or so Fringe performers from around the world – I think a desire for the cooler seasons is almost universal.

Jane Phegan performs Noëlle Janaczewska’s search for the history of the cold – cold that may end soon because of climate change.

Winter has always been the narrator’s favourite season. Instead of getting Seasonal Affective Disorder, it is Australian summers that send her mad. She sees cold as a positive and doesn’t understand why weather presenters always refer to warmer weather as “fine” and cooler weather as “miserable.”

Phegan’s low key wardrobe reflects this love of the cold: shades of blue and stunning silver shoes. And intertwined with this narrative about the history of the cold, and especially the role of women in exploring far-flung cold places, is the story of grieving for the death of the narrator’s mother.

I like to go to a show knowing nothing about it in advance. The End of Winter was so well-acted by Phegan and seemed so personal that I assumed she’d written it, too.

Now I’m not sure what I’ve seen at all. Is the play an autobiographical account from Noëlle Janaczewska, or is it entirely fiction? The details seem far too rich for fiction. But it’s entirely possible that Janaczewska is as good a writer as Phegan is an actor, thus making this some of the best fiction I’ve seen.

What I look for in theatre is whether it transports me into the world of the story and then keeps me there throughout the show – and because of the power of Phegan’s acting and strength of Janaczewska’s script, this certainly did that.

Winter doesn’t need to be your favourite season to enjoy this show. Seeing Phegan perform in itself is enough of a reason to add this to your list of must-see Fringe shows. And climate change is affecting all of us, after all, so that in our lifetimes we may live to see the end of winter.

The End of Winter
The Gallery at The Courtyard of Curiosities at the Migration Museum, 82 Kintore Ave, Adelaide
Performance: Tuesday 27 February 2024
Season: 27 February – 3 March 2024

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Image: Jane Phegan in The End of Winter – photo by Clare Hawley

Review: Daniel G. Taylor