Cheap thrills: Sydney theatre you need to see in April

Welcome to the second instalment of our Cheap Thrills monthly feature! It’s getting colder and rainier and there are Easter eggs lining the shelves – April is almost here. If you’re running out of money fast but still need some live performance in your life then this list is for you.

If you missed our March feature, here’s the run down. I’m featuring up and coming artists in Sydney for comedy, dance, cabaret, and theatre in a list of shows you can see for under $40. With each show is a fun description including some similar Netflix-ish recs for those of you who aren’t theatre nerds like me.

Because I can’t help myself, I’ve also included TWO special treat shows from major theatre companies (read: more expensive) that you should see if you’ve got the cash. I also have some sneaky suggestions for getting sweet deals.

This month you’ll find a few plays I’m excited about, one special reading of a little-known musical, and a bit of comedy in time for the opening of the Sydney Comedy Festival.

You can find tickets linked for every show by clicking their title. Now, go see some theatre!

FUNNY PLAYS

STAY WOKE by Aran Thangaratnam

Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 29 March – 17 April

If you enjoyed Netflix’s Dear White People, or ABC’s Please Like Me and you’re still sad you missed the Sydney season of seven methods of killing kylie jenner (no I will not stop talking about it), this is the play for you. Following the story of two Tamil brothers who take a ski holiday that descends into political party conversation chaos, Stay Woke is exciting new theatre fresh off the Melbourne Malthouse Theatre stage.

On Saturday 2 and 16 April you can see the show with “Short Eatz”, a cultivated Tamil experience including tasty treats, artists, DJs and a whole lot of spice.

Tickets for under 30s are $39.

Darlinghurst Theatre Company always has “Pay What You Can” tickets for those who face barriers to attending theatre. Find out more on the event page.

A IS FOR APPLE by Jessica Bellamy

Griffin Theatre Company, 29 March – 9 April

Part of Griffin Theatre Company’s “Griffin Lookout”, providing independent theatre artists with a space and funding towards their next project by invitation only, A is for Apple is Jessica Bellamy’s newest work. Her last work with Griffin Theatre Company, Shabbat Dinner, included a literal taste of her Baba’s borscht and Jewish family tradition. While this performance doesn’t include food, it does include tasty explorations of “what even is a Jewish woman?” and a whole lot of irreverent comedy about Old and New Testament matriarchs and patriarchs. If you like Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Friday Night Dinner, Seinfeld, or Missy Elliot – you better snag a ticket to this one.

Tickets for Griffin Lookout are all $40.

NOT SO FUNNY PLAYS

HEROES OF THE FOURTH TURNING by Will Arbery

Outhouse Theatre Co at the Seymour Centre, 31 March – 23 April

A Pulitzer Prize finalist, this play is one for showing your Tinder date how smart and politically engaged you are. Described as “a disarming lens on conservative Catholicism and its disciples during the Trump era,” it follows the events of a backyard after-party for the newest president of a small Catholic college. Will their beliefs hold up to the chaos? Think Hellbound, a less violent Devil All the Time or documentaries like The Family.

Under 35s tickets are $35. You can use your Dine and Discover voucher for $25 off!

BREATHING CORPSES by Laura Wade

Eye Contact Theatre at Kings Cross Theatre, 8 – 23 April

Breathing Corpses is a play about three people who are connected by “a gruesome discovery – even if they don’t know it”. We watch as these three characters spiral from their reactions to finding corpses in various states. This is a mix of Stephen King’s Stand By Me, or any of his other corpse stories, and Why Women Kill. If you like emotional stories of strangers connected by strange events – this is for you.

$20 tickets on Thursdays if you’re under thirty with the code KXT20for20s, otherwise adults are $45.

THE LIES WE WERE TOLD directed by Natalie Rose

Shopfront Arts Co-Op, 20 April – 1 May

After a sold out season in 2021, this production about the lies we get told as we grow up is back on the Shopfront stage. An ensemble of young actors aged 8 – 18 share personal stories and verbatim texts (how’s that for a cool thing to tell your friends?) about learning the truth that cannot be unsaid. Remember your year six friends telling you Santa wasn’t real? Still cry about it sometimes? Yeah, me too – this play might make you feel a bit better about it. Alternatively, if you like Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, Stan’s Bump or Malcolm in the Middle, you should check this out.

Tickets are $20 for concession, and $25 for adults.

MUSICAL

BRIGADOON by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner

Hayes Theatre Company, from 27 April

This one is a little more than $40 – but I promise it’s worth it (and difficult to find tickets to a musical for cheap!). A unique presentation by Neglected Musicals, this performance is a read and sing through with only one day’s rehearsal! The musical was made into a MGM film in 1954, starring Gene Kelly. You might even know the song made famous by this movie – “Almost Like Being In Love”. If you like Singin’ in the Rain, The Sound of Music and other classics from the Golden Age of Hollywood, give this a try. This show is also the inspiration for the spoof series streaming on Apple TV, Smigadoon!

Tickets to all performances are $60.

SYDNEY COMEDY FESTIVAL 2022

It’s finally here! A whole host of funnies for not a lot of money, the Sydney Comedy Festival runs from 25 April – 22 May (just after their bigger cooler sister in Melbs). Get out of your comfort zone and try something new!

You can find all the events of the festival on their website, but here are a couple of recs from your local cackler. More to come in May’s Cheap Thrills!

I HOPE MY KEYBOARD DOESN’T BREAK with Gabbi Bolt

Factory Theatre, 8:15PM 28 – 29 April

Gabbi Bolt’s show is an hour of fantastically silly songs about mental health, feminism, climate change and being a young person in this whacked world. Bolt collaborated with artists around the world to write Ratatouille the TikTok Musical and has featured on The Chaser’s Daily Report Podcast. With recommendations from Wayne Brady and KRudd (and me ofc), you’d be stupid to miss this one.

Tickets are $30 concession, $35 for adults.

TWO QUEERS WALK INTO A BAR hosted by Brendan Hancock and Jenna Suffern

Factory Theatre, 9:30PM 28 – 29 April

Comedy for us queers – what more could you want?! A collection of queer comics (and lord knows we need the support), previous acts have included Gen Fricker, Zoë Coombs Marr, Jordan Raskopoulos and Nina Oyama. If you like Hannah Gadsby, Margaret Cho, Wanda Sykes – get down to this bar.

Tickets are $20 concession, $25 for adults.

THE BEAR PACK with Steen Raskopoulos and Carlo Ritchie

Factory Theatre, 8:45PM 28 April and 9:00PM 29 April

Love improv? Same. This one is two dudes improvising stories according to audience suggestions. Think Who’s Line is It Anyway, Middleditch & Schwartz and Thank God You’re Here – but with a cello?! Get down there.

Tickets are $30 concession, $35 for adults.

SPECIAL TREATS

The “big” theatre you should splurge on – try something a bit different!

BLITHE SPIRIT by Noel Coward

Drama Theatre Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre Company, 21 March – 14 May

Starring the fabulous queen Courtney Act, the incredibly hilarious Bessie Holland, and a whacky ensemble, this play is camp, outrageous, and laugh-yourself-silly. In the hopes of getting some material for his new book, Charles the novelist invites crackpot medium Madame Arcati to his house for a séance. The ritual goes extremely wrong, and he ends up with his ex-wife (Act) haunting him and his new boo. Think The Half of It, Just Like Heaven, and Ghostbusters – but in the 1930s and with a snobby writer at the centre of it.

Under 30s tickets are $54, or check out the Tix app for up to 40% off!

THE REP SEASON (WAYSIDE BRIDE/LIGHT SHINING IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE)

Belvoir St Theatre, 2 April – 29 May

Get ready for some nerdy theatre words, because this one is special! For the first time in Belvoir’s history, they are offering a “repertory season”: the same cast, on the same set, in alternating performances of two different plays. Both plays are written by some giant women playwrights, one from 1976 and the other a new work that’s so very Sydney. The plays are Wayside Bride by Alana Valentine and Light Shining in Buckinghamshire by Caryl Churchill. Together they present “a big picture and a local picture of the age-old struggle for a fairer society”.

Wayside Bride is a tribute to the Sydney haven, the Wayside Chapel. For the poor, the misfits, the excluded, this is a play of “quiet heroism and heartache”. If you liked the ABC TV series about The Choir of Hard Knocks, or things like shameless, Struggle Street, Skins, this one will be for you.

Light Shining in Buckinghamshire is set during the English Civil War, telling the story of ordinary people going to battle for the soul of the nation. Caryl Churchill is a playwright everyone should see – so if you’re into writing, reading, seeing, breathing then you need to see this. Think along the lines of Derry Girls, the 2014 documentary Pride or even Midsomer Murders.

Student Saver tickets start at $35, and 30-Down tickets at $48 for previews, Tuesday – Friday evenings and Saturday matinees. If you want to see both plays plus one other at Belvoir later in the year, you can subscribe to three plays from $128!

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