Cheap thrills: Sydney theatre you need to see in May

Welcome to another Cheap Thrills! With the Melbourne Comedy Festival just gone, you might be feeling like you’re missing out on all the fun. But never fear – the Sydney Comedy Fest is just around the corner this May! And, as always, there’s plenty of other fun shows you can get to.

New to Theatre Thoughts and Cheap Thrills? Here’s the deal: this list contains some great theatre by great emerging artists for around $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 some recs for the Sydney Comedy Festival, two other performance festivals, some plays I’m excited about, a little Shakespeare and two unique musicals.

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


The Sydney Comedy Festival is in full swing! Also in May you’ll find new theatrical work at the Sydney Opera House’s UnWrapped series of short works, and The Flying Nun; a showcase of performing arts residences with Brand X.

Find our Best of the Fest – including our recommendations for the Sydney Comedy Festival here. Find some good queer and diverse comedy recommendations from Natali Caro here.

RUNT by Patricia Cornelius

Sydney Opera House, 12 – 14 May

A play about the runts of the world: the lesser, the unwanted, the weak, those without clout, the insignificant. A one woman show about being small, just like me, this play is Fleabag gone wonky. Think Puberty Blues, The Slap and other Australian dramas all concentrated into one tiny person. This one is not for the faint hearted!

Standard tickets are $45, under 30s are $30.


The Flying Nun by Brand X, 20 – 21 May

A conversation between a woman and an AI construction of herself – she struggles to figure out where she ends, and her online profile begins. This show is part of Brand X’s The Flying Nun program, which gives space for emerging artists to put on adventurous theatre works. Lily Hayman and Thomas Doyle are an emerging duo with a strong interest in technology – as it seeps into ourselves and our lives. Think along the lines of Black Mirror, her, Ex Machina, but with multiple modes of performance.

Tickets for all Flying Nun shows are $25. Check Infinity Mirror and the rest of May’s shows out here.


BECOME THE ONE by Adam Fawcett

Lennox Theatre, Riverside Parramatta, 19 May – 21 May

A queer rom-com much like Love, Simon or Bend It Like Beckham if the two leads were actually together, this play is winner of the 2018 Playtime Award for New Writing. It follows Noah and his partner Tom, an AFL star who chooses to remain closeted while Noah is proudly out – what might this look like? What does it take to “Become the One”? We love a good show with the title in the description – so if you like a bit of corny romance, get down to Riverside.

Adults are $49, concession $45. Kids 15 and under are $42.

GHOSTING THE PARTY by Melissa Bubnic

Griffin Theatre Company, 6 May – 11 June

In three(ish) words: black comedy, motherhood, witty. Grace comes home from her sister’s funeral, and decides she’s ready to “leave the party”. Three generations of women with very dry senses of humour try to face mortality – “hand on heart and tongue in cheek”. If you like curly comedies from the Coen brothers (Fargo, Burn After Reading), The Golden Girls, Shiva Baby, or even The End of the Fxxxing World, this one will be right up your alley!

The Golden Age Cinema is playing a “double feature” of sorts with Ghosting the Party on 4 May, featuring the classic movie Harold and Maude. Find tickets here.

Monday Rush tickets, available online and over the phone on Mondays from noon, are $20. Under 35s tickets are $38.

BENCHED by Jamila Main

Darlinghurst Theatre Company, 25 – 29 May

A work of immersive theatre, in which eight humans enter the space one by one and take a seat to tell a story, this is a moment of joy and rumination on athleticism within a disabled body. You can choose to be a part of the show by sitting next to Jamila on the bench, watch from the seats, or even from your own home. There are six one-on-one tickets where there are no observers and you share your stories with Jamila. Jamila joyfully presents theatre for disabled and chronically ill people, an opportunity to commiserate and celebrate disability together. Think something like Atypical or Sex Education but way, way more intimate.

Pre-recorded or livestream tickets are $10, general tickets are $38 and immersive/one-on-one tickets are $42.


SON OF BYBLOS by James Elazzi

Brave New Word Theatre Company at the Belvoir St Theatre, 4 – 21 May

Adam has everything under control – until his cousin Claire suddenly announces her engagement to a man abroad in Lebanon. The clash between his private world and cultural expectations clash and test his ability to continue to lie to his family. Think TV shows like Casual, shameless, and Feel Good, or other juicy dramas about keeping it all together.

Son of Byblos is part of Belvoir’s 25A program, in which Belvoir gives emerging and independent artists theatre space for free if they can make a show for less than $1500.

Tickets to 25A shows are always $25! You can even use your Dine and Discover voucher and go for FREE.

TELL ME BEFORE THE SUN EXPLODES by Hayden Tonazzi and Jacob Parker

Rock Bottom Productions at the Kings Cross Theatre, 4 – 15 May

Tell Me Before the Sun Explodes is about how you decide to spend your last 8 minutes with someone – exploring memory, saying goodbye before all the light, love and life and leave for good. Kind of the like the final moments of Don’t Look Up, or along the lines of Gravity and Passenger, but queer. It tells stories about cancer and a boy who can only cook jelly and ridiculously choreographed dances for gay weddings – sounds heartbreaking and heartwarming and beautiful to me!

Tickets are $35 for Concession, $45 for Adults. You can get $20 tickets on Thursdays if you’re under thirty with the code KXT20for20s.

ATE LOVIA by Jordan Shea

Red Line Productions at the Old Fitz, 12 May – 4 June

Ate Lovia (aH-the low-VEE-ya) is a new Filipino-Australian drama, exploring what it means to stay loyal to your family no matter how brutal it gets. Benjamin Law’s The Family Law comes to mind, as well as Muriel’s Wedding and other Australian dramas about the struggles of living with struggling alcoholic fathers. Set in the Sutherland Shire, this is one for those of us who aren’t convinced by the suburbian Australian dream.

Cheap Tuesday tickets are $33! Adults are $45 and Concession $38 on other nights.


Now look, I know Shakespeare is tricky and we all hated it in Year 10. But I promise, Shakespeare can be good, fun and cheap.

MACBETH by William Shakespeare

Sport for Jove at the Seymour Centre, 5 – 14 May

We all know Macbeth. Out damned spot! What, you egg! This production is an introduction for young audiences and new theatregoers alike. Featuring swordplay, clear storytelling and the age-old stories of ambition gone awry, Sport for Jove’s Macbeth is a real treat. If you’ve seen the movie The Tragedy of Macbeth, or any other film version, give this a go. If you’ve never seen Shakespeare and you think it’s not for you – I dare you to try again for your young self’s sake!

All tickets are $30.


The “big” theatre you should splurge on – but different!

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS THE MUSICAL by Craig Luca, George and Ira Gershwin

Theatre Royal Sydney, from 29 April

Including music from the Gershwins like “I Got Rhythm”, “But Not for Me” and of course, “An American in Paris”, this show is for ballet-lovers, theatre-lovers, jazz-lovers, and musical-lovers alike. Featuring the brilliant Leanne Cope, this musical is a wonder of theatrical spectacle, bringing art deco delights to the Sydney stage. If you like The Great Gatsby, or Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, you will love this!

Check out our podcast episode with Leanne Cope here.

Tickets range from $59.95 – $229.95. Find the cheapest tickets during the week, with restricted views or through Lasttix or Tix!

Keep your eye out for the $75 special in the opening week, and $45 rush tickets through the Tix app.


Hayes Theatre Co, from 12 May

Dubbo Championship Wrestling is part wrestling spectacular and part rock musical. The violence, the joy, the costumes, the thumbtacks. Will there be blood? We bloody hope so. Featuring characters with names like Ozzy the Aussie battler, this is silly, gritty, hilarious and has a few naughty words! Think Kath & Kim, A Moody Christmas or any Australian comedy about the outback and trying to fit in.

Check out our interview with the leading lady of Dubbo Championship Wrestling here.

Weekday matinees and previews are $57 for concession, $63 full price. Weeknights and Saturday matinees $67 or $73. Friday and Saturday evenings are $79.

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