Melbourne / Lifestyle / The Best Theatre Shows in Melbourne for an Instant Culture Fix

The Best Theatre Shows in Melbourne for an Instant Culture Fix

Living in a thriving arts and culture hub means there’s always plenty of theatre to see, but the city gets an extra boost of talent in October with the arrival of the Melbourne International Arts Festival.  Here’s the best of what’s on-stage right now, encompassing plays, musicals, dance and even circus.

The Architect

Funny, moving and sobering, this Melbourne Theatre Company play deftly navigates the politics and emotions that come with confronting our own death. Offspring’s Linda Cropper plays Helen, a woman dying of a brain tumour who recruits a drifter “tradie” to be her carer. The unexpected bond they develop proves to be new source of healing until a deep secret threatens to throw everything into upheaval.

Until 31 October

Southbank Theatre, 140 Southbank Blvd, Southbank

NINE: The Musical

This blockbuster musical continues to captivate audiences almost 20 years after it first opened on Broadway to wide acclaim and five Tony Awards. NINE follows the story of a famed Italian director who, suffering from writer’s block and a failing marriage, reaches out the nine most significant women in his life to drag him out of crisis and onto the path of self-awareness. 

12 October - 2 November

Chapel Off Chapel, 12 Little Chapel St, Prahran 


Opera Australia’s newest production adapts Franz Kafka’s most famous work – the bizarre story of a depressed salaryman who awakens one day to find himself transformed into an insect. Twelve musicians and six singers perform Brian Howard’s percussive score, building to a slow crescendo the tragedy and pathos of this haunting tale.

25-27 October

Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Southbank 


Belarus Free Theatre’s members have risked persecution in their native country to speak out against government censorship and political oppression. Directors Nicolai Khalezin and Natalia Kaliada have now arrived in Australia to shine a light on our very own silence in the face of injustice and abuse in a new play which asks what we are most afraid to hear.

Until 21 October

Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt St, Southbank

Prize Fighter

Unflinchingly raw and emotional, Prize Fighter tells the story of a 16-year-old Congolese refugee in Brisbane who pursues glory inside the ring while dealing with the trauma of his past. The semi-autobiographical debut from Future D. Fidel was nominated for Best Play at the Helpmann Awards and arrives in Melbourne after successful runs in Brisbane and Sydney.

9-20 October

Northcote Town Hall, 189 High St, Northcote 

Madiba: The Musical

Told through the story of young artist Will, Madiba celebrates the life of visionary South African leader Nelson Mandela as we approach 25 years since his election and the end of apartheid. African dance, uplifting songs and vibrant visuals bring to life the legend of Mandela, interspersed with an absorbing tale of forbidden love. 

Until 28 October

The Comedy Theatre, 240 Exhibition St, Melbourne 

Layla and Manjun

It’s often referred to as the “Romeo and Juliet of the East”, though given it dates back to the 5th Century, it’s really R&J that should be known as the “Layla and Majnun of the West”. In this dazzling dance-meets-opera production, musical traditions from across cultures fuse with movement from ballet, modern and folk dance to tell the story of this tragic, unfulfilled love.

10-13 October

Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne


An awe-inspiring show that reimagines circus performance for the modern age, Lexicon invites audiences to move around, get up close to artists, and completely immerse themselves in the spectacle. Dance, music, aerial feats (and a little fire twirling) are just the tip of the iceberg in an act that will captivate all ages.

3-21 October

Royal Botanical Gardens, Birdwood Ave, South Yarra


This one-hour show is guaranteed to be unlike any you’ve seen before. You’ll be sat inside a private booth before a window unfolds, revealing a diorama in which tiny figurines tell the story of two orphaned brothers travelling across Europe in search of a new home. Described as a graphic novel come to exquisite, miniature life, Flight captures the imagination in unforeseen ways.

5-21 October

Arts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne


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