Polite Society's April Social Diary

Politics and passion abound in this month’s fiery cultural picks



Saddened by the end of summer? Need to lift your spirits ahead of the descent into a (not terribly bleak) east-coast winter? Time to book your tickets to the Melbourne Comedy Festival, which keeps Melburnians and their guests tickled pink for the first three weeks of this month. International stars include Adam Kay (This Is Going To Hurt) and festival stalwarts Arj Barker and Ed Byrne, while local comedians – including Hannah Gadsby, with her new show Woof! – vie for your laughs at over 100 venues all over the city, and beyond. They even venture as far as Bendigo. Until April 21, multiple locations

Speaking of travel, many performers head north to the Sydney Comedy Festival (starting April 22) after finishing in Melbourne – we’re unsure whether they’ll be tired at that point, or much improved after three weeks honing their skills. In the meantime, the Sydney Theatre Company’s No Pay? No Way! promises to scratch the comedy itch. Adapted from a 1970s Italian play by Dario Fo, this production features Mandy McElhinney as Antonia, a housewife tired of rising prices who encourages a mass shoplifting at her local supermarket. Unsurprisingly, she ends up on the run with her ‘liberated’ loot and hilarity ensues. Drama Theatre, Sydney Opera House, from April 6

Also at the Opera House this month: the Australian Ballet’s sizzling production of Carmen. First staged in Madrid in 2015, this version of George Bizet’s 19th-century opera was created by world-leading choreographer Johan Inger and gives the classic story a contemporary retelling. Spoiler: this tale of seduction doesn’t end well for either Don José or the fiery Carmen, but along the way we’re treated to some exhilarating solo passages with not a pointe shoe in sight. Joan Sutherland Theatre, April 10-27 

If you’re the kind of person that signs up for Merriam-Webster’s Word Of The Day emails (guilty), or you’re simply interested in spiky discussion, may we suggest Bell Shakespeare’s panel discussion on Shakespeare and the Language Revolution this month. The initial talking point is whether Shakespeare would approve of 21st-century language. We think yes, though we suspect he’d be less keen on emojis. The Seed, Pier 2/3, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney, April 9 

Sydneysider friends of Polite Society have been giving rave reviews to RBG: Of Many, One, and now it’s Melbourne’s turn to see Suzie Miller’s (of Prima Facie fame) standout one-woman show, which debuted in 2022. Heather Miller reprises her role as Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the Supreme Court judge and feminist icon, as she revisits the major events of her extraordinary life. Not to be missed – the SMH described it as “one of the all-time-great performances”. Arts Centre Melbourne, April 25-May 12 

We’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction recently (Paul Lynch’s Booker Prize winner Prophet Song being the most unsettling of late). But that won’t stop us booking seats for The President, a co-production between the Sydney Theatre Company and Dublin’s renowned Gate Theatre, this month. Hugo Weaving and Olwen Fouéré play the vainglorious president and First Lady of a small, unnamed country whose regime is under siege. Their son is suspected to be one of the anarchists. In this year of some significant real-life elections, this play promises to be suitably – and enjoyably – dark. Roslyn Packer Theatre, April 13-May 18

And finally, if you’re feeling in need of an uplift, Australian pianist Sarah Grunstein returns to the Sydney Opera House for one night only, playing Beethoven’s last sonatas. These are transcendent pieces, played by a performer described by the New York Times as having “penetrating musical intelligence”. Utzon Room, April 4