Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner – in Melbourne, at last
18 – 29 January at Malthouse theater
british playwright Jasmine Lee-Jones‘s acclaimed play returns to Australia after a sellout run in Sydney. Newly dumped Cleo is on a Twitter tirade, directing her fury at headlines that describe Kardashian personality Kylie Jenner as a “self-made” billionaire. Her de ella best friend, Kara, tries to talk her down as Cleo’s anger escalates. A funny and furious exploration of internet celebrity and the commodification of Blackness.
Tickets are $65+bf
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – returned and reduced
Until 30 April at Princess theater
If you’re up for watching an almost four-hour play about a middle-aged Harry Potter learning to be a good dad, you are probably fine with an almost six-hour version too. But Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the theatrical sequel to JK Rowling’s books, has now been tightened from a two-part play to a single three-and-a-half-hour show with an interval – there’s not much new if you’ ve already seen the longer version, but it is worth going to see (even again) just for the magic tricks alone.
Tickets from $65+bf
Alan Cumming – live and on stage
14 January at Palais theater
It’s hard to argue with the title. After all, the impish Scottish actor turns 58 in January having just played a thirtysomething pretending to be a high school kid. Cumming’s irrepressible joie de vivre will be front and center of this new solo show, which comes to town after its world premiere at the adelaide cabaret festival (of which he’s been artistic director since 2021). It promises a “bewitching night of showbiz, tunes and life-affirming laughs”. Whatever it is he’s on, we want some.
Tickets are $80+bf
District Live – pub trivia with Isaiah Firebrace
7 January at The District Docklands
This almost certainly sounds like something cooked up in a mad-lib but we are not complaining. Since winning X Factor Australia in 2016, pop dreamboat Isaiah Firebrace has become a veritable tripping hazard, sweeping people off their feet with his soulful tunes. The Yorta Yorta and Gunditjmara artist will be performing live at docklands, soundtracking two free pub trivia sessions – with a bunch of food and drink stalls too. It’s part of a weekly program that also includes performances from Montaigne and a DJ set from The Wiggles OG Murray Cook throughout January.
HTRK – sparse sounds from Melbourne duo
25 January at Malthouse outdoor stage
Are there any Australian acts who have undergone as much transformation as HTRK? Under that banner, jonnine standish and Nigel Yang have made seven albums, spanning the industrial-ish electronica of their 2007 debut, which sounds as though it’s echoing from inside a storage container, to the Americana-indebted folk of their 2021 record Rhinestones – which made it on to our best Australian albums list in 2021.
Tickets are $45
Joey Bada$$ – Brooklyn rapper with 90s flare
10 January at Northcote theater
Joey Bada$$ dropped his mixtape 1999 in 2012 when he was just 17. As its name implies, it felt completely out of step with his contemporaries, instead harking back to the so-called golden age of hip-hop. It made waves almost instantly, kickstarting the Brooklyn rapper’s career which now encompasses six full-length releases. His latest by him, titled 2000, pays homage to that debut; fans of Nas will recognize Joey Bada$$’s anachronistic taste on full display again. What could come off as dated simply sounds classic – and his live show by him is similarly no-frills.
Tickets are $90+bf
Parties and festivals
Midsumma Carnival – queer Christmas
22 January at Alexandra gardens
The annual three-week queer festival kicks off with this free opening event, held out in the sun in alexandra gardens. With plenty of musical and drag performances to see and things to eat, the opening carnival alone attracts 120,000 people each year; a must-see is the annual dog parade – a favorite of many. Picnics welcome.
Boiler Room x Sugar Mountain – dancefloor filler
21 January at Seaworks Maritime Precinct
The party famous for exposing thousands of gacked rave faces and awkward dance moves on their livestreamed sets is returning to Melbourne! Boiler Room has been collaborating with local dance festival Sugar Mountain for the better part of a decade. This year’s lineup includes Detroit selector DJ Bone and Canada’s globe-trotting Darwinas well as Egyptian Australian artist Moktar, who’s built a sizeable name for himself on the scene with his fusion of club music and Arabic arrangements. It’ll all go down in a scenic venue about 30 minutes out of Melbourne – and, of course, on YouTube.
Tickets are $120
Peninsula summer music festival – 19 days of grown-up delights
1 – 19 January at Mornington Peninsula
From hot springs and church gardens to established wine estates, this massive program of contemporary and classical music concerts takes over the Mornington Peninsula for over two weeks, starting on New Year’s Day with the sounds of Brazil. Family events include the Wild Adventures of Peer Gynt and serious music lovers have plenty to choose from with Reuben Tsang’s epic rachmaninoff Etudes-Tableaux Op 39, along with a concert by the festival’s co-directors Melissa Doecke and Ben Opie, salieri‘s Concerto for Flute and Oboe.
Tickets range from free to $175, with most concerts $30–$55
Lunar new year festival – dragon dance on the Yarra
20 January at Queensbridge Square
Lunar new year celebrations have everything the staid western calendar lacks: firecrackers and the smell of gunpowder in the air; skies of colored lanterns glowing in the dark; streets awash with the color red, symbol of luck and vitality, and most of all dragons. Queensbridge Square on the Yarra bursts to life in late January as the celebrations usher in the year of the rabbit, but it’s those spectacular dragons, dancing to the beat of drums on the backs of extraordinary acrobats that the crowds come to see.
Visual arts and family-friendly events
Polly Borland – bits and blobs from a Melbourne icon
24 – 25 January at Station Gallery
Polly Borland’s photographs are strange, surreal and almost immediately recognizable: fleshy blobs stuffed into stockings; powerful nudes that will stare you down; and portraits of famous faces including Queen Elizabeth II, Donald Trump, Monica Lewinsky and Nick Cave. The latter is a close friend of Borland’s, as the two came up together in Melbourne’s 80s punk scene. Cave once let her smush his face into a giant stocking, topped with a blue wig and red lipstick. Because that’s what friends are for.
Monet & Friends – water lilies, made giant
Until 31 March at The Lume
The team that beamed the art of Vincent van Gogh as giant, immersive projections on the walls and floors of the light are back to do the same for Claude Monet and his fellow French impressionists. Think pastel daubs and all the water lilies you could shake a paintbrush at, with a bit of classical music to boot. They’ve even installed their own version of Paris’s Café de Flore inside for you to get a petit four. It’s a feast for all the senses.
Tickets are $44 +bf
Spaghetti-Stack-Snuffle-Shuffle – colorful sculptures for the whole family
Until 26 February at Bunjil Place
Rosie Deacon takes up artistic residence at Bunjil Place in Berwick’s Old Cheese Factory, with this new sculptural exhibition exploring the relationship between animals and humans. Using found materials and gifted items collected from op shops and art disposal centers, Deacon weaves wonderfully textural, explosively colorful exhibits that aim to reconnect audiences with childhood memories. She also incorporates 100 “joey” sculptures created by students from Gwendoline kindergarten in this highly interactive and family-friendly show.