It’s that time again – here’s your monthly fix of Cheap Thrills from your favourite theatre gay, Charlotte! It’s getting colder and colder outside in the Sydney wind, what better time to cosy on up next to your favourite friend and some strangers in the stalls of a theatre?
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 I’ve got some very new theatre, a couple of fun musicals that won’t break the bank, a whole swathe of clock-melting surrealism, and some girlbosses and gangsters for you. One of my dear friends has said I might overdose on theatre if I go to too many shows – and with this month’s offerings I am at HIGH risk of doing so.
You can find tickets linked for every show by clicking their title. Now, go see some theatre!
BRAND SPANKIN’ (new) THEATRE
Some great new theatrical works make their debut this month at Kings Cross Theatre’s Step Up Festival, the Sydney Opera House’s UnWrapped series of short works, and The Flying Nun; a showcase of performing arts residencies with Brand X.
Kings Cross Theatre, 1 and 2 June
A “heartwarming work-in-progress”, this is a staged reading of a play from Chinese/Australian writer Eric Jiang. All about navigating friendship, relationships and love as a queer Asian-Australian, this one has The Family Law, Sex Education and Heartstopper vibes. Staged readings involve actors with scripts in hand, so it might be rough around the edges – but still a whole lot of fun!
Tickets for Rhomboid are FREE!
The Flying Nun by Brand X, 24 – 25 June
Created and performed by Taofia Pelesasa, a Pasifika storyteller in Australia, this play is about disappearances, mysteries and the extraordinary. Pelesasa says about their work: “basically, I love my people and we deserve better than the invisibility we have endured in this country.” If you want to learn about a perspective other than your own, this might be the place to do it. Set in Western Sydney, this piece is along the lines of Hunt for the Wilderpeople, or Bridge to Terabithia in the city.
All tickets are $25.
UnWrapped at the Sydney Opera House, 8 – 11 June
A “live cinema experience”, Coil pays tribute to the glory days of the video store. It features actors live on stage, being filmed and projected on a screen above as you watch. Like The Picture of Dorian Gray that just left Sydney Theatre Company, but before it was cool. If you’re a softboi who misses the act of physically browsing the video store, or just an unapologetically indie human who likes (500) Days of Summer and Be Kind Rewind, snag a ticket to this.
Standard tickets are $45, Under 30s are $30.
Kings Cross Theatre, 8 – 18 June
KXT has been putting on some weird and whacky sh*t of late, and I am SO here for it. Daddy Developed a Pill features sixteen psychotic characters played by only three actors so expect a lighting fast pace and even faster changes. With a tagline no-one could hate: “Come for the gender f*ckery, stay for your dying need to impress Daddy and finally be his good little girl,” this one is for the queerdos and the snooty b*tches of the world. They’ve even done my job for me and described it as Don’s Party meets Euphoria meets an Apple keynote – I’d add that this sounds like all the characters in Search Party amped up to a billion. Don’t miss it.
Concession tickets are $35 and adults $45. You can get $20 tickets on Thursdays if you’re under thirty with the code KXT20for20s.
Red Line Productions at the Old Fitz, 9 – 25 June
Somewhere, someplace, six abandoned souls try to save themselves through love. Content warnings for this one: simulations of sex, sexual and physical violence, drug consumption and suicide themes. Cleansed is like Black Mirror meets Saw; creepy, scary, and featuring an “ominous observer”. Find yourself reflected – if you dare.
Cheap Tuesday tickets are $33 for everyone, Adults $45 and Concession $38 on other nights.
Kunst at the Belvoir St Theatre, 15 – 25 June
“A late-capitalist battle royale of endurance”, HORSES follows contestants who meet across an inhumanely gruelling, Depression-era dance marathon. Set in Sydney in 1932, this “murder on the dancefloor” drama captures “endless days of lunacy, laughter, struggle and heartbreak” to satirise our lives in the 2020s. Think Great Gatsby meets The Hunger Games meets Search Party or BoJack Horseman.
HORSES 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. Check out the rest of the shows on offer this year here – I honestly can’t pick which I’m looking forward to most.
Tickets to 25A shows are always $25!
New Theatre, Newtown, 31 May – 25 June
In June 1960, travelling salesman Bazil Thorne won 100,000 pounds in the Opera House Lottery. Five weeks later, his eight-year-old son Graeme was kidnapped and held to ransom – and later found in bushland at Seaforth. But rather than dramatically tell this story, Gods and Little Fishes interprets it through a father’s grief and a child’s imagination. Think something like Room, the song Sarah by Kate Miller-Heidke, or that strange Netflix anthology film The House.
Thrifty Thursday tickets are $22, concession are $30 and full tickets $35.
GANGSTERS AND GIRLBOSSES
Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville, 15 June – 2 July
Set in London in 1869, four Victorian women are drawn into the dark underground world of female boxing by the eccentric Professor Sharp. For the first time – their lives are in their own hands in pursuit of the Lady Boxing Champion of the World. A little bit Bridgerton, a little bit Mrs Winifred Banks from Mary Poppins, and a lot like Billy Elliot, catch this one if you live in the Inner West and couldn’t bear to get yourself into the city for a night at the theatre.
General Admission tickets are $48, Concession $42.
Griffin Theatre Company, 24 June – 30 July
Golden Blood is like Crazy Rich Asians but darker; when a teenage girl’s mother dies she is left alone in the only thing she’s inherited, a decaying penthouse in the heart of Singapore. Her brother is her only carer, but he’s estranged and an actual gangster. It “feels like a big-screen thriller, even though it’s got a cast of two”. Merlynn Tong features as the lead in her own play, directed by Griffin’s Associate Artistic Director Tessa Leong. If you’re loving all this Asian-Australian theatre on Sydney stages right now, and you cried in Everything Everywhere All at Once, I reckon you might like this.
Monday Rush tickets, available online and over the phone on Mondays from noon, are $20. Under 35s tickets are $38.
I know I said it’s hard to find a musical for not a lot of money – but look! I found some, just for you:
Flight Path Theatre, Marrickville, 9 – 11 June
A brand-new musical comedy, this one follows Hope Magnolia Tamlin, a hopelessly romantic waitress working at “Weddings by the Shore”, Sydney’s finest catering company. Sugary sweet, featuring hot goss, and pink frilly dreams, this one is like 27 Dresses, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Enchanted and all your favourite early 2000s rom-coms set to music. Written by Rosie Meader, with music and lyrics by Paul Meader, two parts of the “Rosie Meader Trio” who have been performing and touring since Rosie was four years old, their style is a little bit pop, a little bit blues, and a little bit jazz. And for under $40, why not get to Flight Path and watch a silly, poppy musical?
General Admission tickets are $40, Concession $30 and Under 12’s $20.
ATYP at the Rebel Theatre, 21 June – 17 July
Featuring 18-year-old Tracey and her grandmother Mabel, who plays piano for the Players, this show sold out in 2014 when it played with Sydney Theatre Company. When Tracey doesn’t come home from her European holiday, Mabel goes off to find her – think Bad Grandpa but gender-swapped and a bit less naughty! Valerie Bader is set to “shine brighter than a mirror ball”, to some “irresistibly sick beats” in the brand-new Rebel Theatre. If your grandma is as cool as mine, take her along to boogie in the seats to this one.
Adults are $65, Concession $50, and Under 26s $45.
The “big” theatre you should splurge on – but different!
Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company, 25 June – 6 August
I am unashamedly obsessed with brother and sister duo Michelle and Benjamin Law. If you liked Benjamin’s butt on show at the Archibald prize, check out Michelle’s latest piece after Belvoir’s Single Asian Female and SBS’s Homecoming Queens. Top Coat is Freaky Friday, but with a Chinese-Australian manicurist and a white latte sipping TV exec swapping bodies. What could go wrong? A whole bloody lot. Directed by STC’s Directing Associate (read: emerging artist) Courtney Stewart, who also directed Single Asian Female, the duo are back to make us laugh and think again. I can’t wait!
Tickets are $49 for Under 30s from Monday to Thursday, all tickets on Fridays and Saturdays are $74.
STC has “Thirties” $30 tickets available every Thursday at 9am for the following week’s performances. Find out more here.
Sydney Opera House, 9 – 12 June
Australia’s sweetheart soprano Anna O’Byrne stars in this one-woman cabaret telling her story of stepping into the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady and working with her idol Dame Julie Andrews. The Dame herself has said “Anna O’Byrne is one of the loveliest Australian actresses in musical theatre today”. If you love Mary Poppins as much as I do or you can’t get enough of it at the Lyric Theatre this month, this show is a great way to get another spoonful of sugar into your life. Featuring classics like ‘My Favourite Things’ and ‘Wouldn’t It Be Loverly’, this will make you nostalgic for the days of falling asleep to The Sound of Music on your grandma’s couch – and will most definitely make you teary.
Standard tickets start at $49, Concession from $44.
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