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February 13, 2020

The absolute best shows to see this year

Take a big bite out of CityMag's Festival Burger with our guide to the best shows to see this year, according to last year's reviews. See - statistics can be fun.

  • Research: Angela Skujins & Johnny von Einem
  • Festival burger sculpture and photograph: Emmaline Zanelli
  • Graphics: Nicky Capurso

 The truth about the festival season in Adelaide is that there’s simply too much content to consume. It’s a hectic amount of art in a short period of time. But that’s why it’s so good –  that’s where the energy comes from, and why Adelaide truly hums during February and March each year.


We believe our deep-dive statistical analysis of past Fringe and Festival reviews is damn near impossible to argue with, but if you still want to browse the entire Fringe and Festival programs, find them below:

Adelaide Fringe
Adelaide Festival

But while CityMag is keen for more shows, more venues, and more fun during this time, we’re less keen on more words. 

So rather than read anything, we decided to research which artists from 2019 were bringing a new show to Adelaide in 2020 and use their track record to gauge their chances of impressing you again. We compounded over 800 reviews published in InDaily, The Advertiser, Fest Magazine, Glam Adelaide, Scenestr, The Upside News and This Is Radelaide.  

The flamboyant drag show Dietrich, Natural Duty, and Scotland! are the shows most likely to offer you a near five-out-of-five Adelaide Fringe experience, based on their reviews last year. The below graph standardised the reviews into points out of 100, and the closer to 100, well, the better the shows and their creators did on average.

Interestingly – but not surprisingly – this process uncovered the genre most likely to offer you best time (according to reviewers) is comedy, trailed closely by circus, and then theatre.


CityMag spent roughly 45 hours – more than a full working week – on this project. We calculated our findings by selecting the publications which offered five-star reviews of Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringe shows within the last year.

Our master spread sheet, totalling 847 shows, pooled data in many forms, but was influenced most heavily by the media outlets with the most review output: The Advertiser, Glam Adelaide, Fest Magazine and InDaily. We used Scenstr, The Upside News and This Is Radelaide to fill in some blanks. In our formula one star represents 20 per cent, and we averaged the total scores across each publication to calculate the final percentage. We did not include any reviews that didn’t rate using the star system.

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