Sydney Fringe Festival is back, taking over the city all September long. Director Kerri Glasscock has no hesitations in calling this year’s festival the most ambitious yet, with more than 80 per cent of the acts being world premieres. Exciting ones, too.

“The program this year has really stepped up,” Glasscock says. “There are great things on every single day of the month – legitimately great. There’s been a move to immersive and multimedia works too, which is why our guide has no genres anymore.”

Whether you’re looking for absurdist theatre, affecting dance pieces, top-notch comedy or Pauline Hanson: The Musical, you’ll find it at Fringe. Here are 10 of our picks, from emerging acts to festival-circuit favourites.

PARTY

Fringe Ignite: Festival Opening Party
Ngaiire was given creative control over this year’s opening festivities. She’s making the most of it, shutting down Kensington Street for a free block party featuring nine stages of music and performance. Catch Wallace, Stereogamous, eclectic Sydney trio Yon Yonson and more before Ngaiire puts on her own energetic set.

Kensington Street Precinct
September 2, 4pm–8pm. Free

UNCONVENTIONAL PLAYS

Silent Theatre
Inspired by a stay at The Urban Newtown, four playwrights will each write a play set in their room. Audiences watch the scenes unfold from the streets below. With headphones to switch between audio channels, Silent Theatre is part Rear Window, part choose-your-own-adventure play. Where will you look, who will you listen to, and what will you uncover?

The Urban Newtown
September 14–16, 6pm. $38

Unplotted Potter
If the promise of more Fantastic Beasts films doesn’t sate your hunger for Harry Potter, Unplotted Potter explores the lives of lesser-known characters. Each night, the audience calls out for the story of a Professor Filch or Oliver Wood and an improvised fan-fiction-meets-theatre show is born. If you’re a particularly feverish Potter-head, you can buy a “Defender Of Potter” ticket and object to make sure the plot remains true to the canon.

The Factory Theatre
September 26, 28 & 30, 8.15pm. $15–$40, Potter Defender $100

Baby Boy Bolognese: Mates! An Aussie Soap Opera
Absurdist-leaning theatre troupe Baby Boy Bolognese is taking a divide-and-conquer approach to this year’s festival with five shows. Although all look promising – especially Dodo Park, the Jurassic Park parody you never knew you wanted – our pick of the bunch is Mates! An Aussie Soap Opera. The promise of “hunky lifeguard Peter Garrett” won us over.

The Factory Theatre
September 28–29, 8.15pm; October 1, 7.15pm. $10–$15

MUSICAL THEATRE

The Colour Orange
Inspired by the likes of Keating! The Musical, this original musical tackles Pauline Hanson’s enduring political career. Expect songs like “Jesus Wasn’t Wrapped In Muslin” and “Straight Outta Ipswich”, a Dancing With The Stars number to wow the judges, and appearances from the ghosts of red-headed Prime Ministers past.

HPG Festival Hub
September 14–16, 6pm. $27

Billie McCarthy Takes Up Space
In her own words, Billie McCarthy has always been extra: too loud, too bold and to some, too fat. Her latest cabaret embraces all of the above in a swirl of jazz, soul and confessional comedy that celebrates demanding a voice in a society that still struggles to listen.

The Sound Lounge, Seymour Centre
September 21-23, 8pm. $25-$30

DANCE

Every/Nowhere
A standout from 2015’s Fringe World Perth, Every/Nowhere is a one-woman dance piece created by Serena Chalker with nods to installation art and poetry. An intimate affair, only 10 audience members attend each show, yet no one sees the same performance. Guided by an audio guide, each person enters the space one at a time, creating an emotional delay between the audience as they walk around.

Annandale Creative Arts Centre
September 12–14, 7pm, 8.30pm; September 15, 7pm. $30

COMEDY

Michael Hing: Proud Boys
You might not know the name, but you’ve definitely seen Michael Hing’s work. The comedian’s videos for SBS Viceland are Facebook scroll-stoppers, sucking you in with his sharp takes on Australia’s racial and social injustices. We can expect more of the same here, which is by no means a bad thing.

The Factory Theatre
September 27 & 29, 7pm; October 1, 6pm. $10–$15

Nina Oyama Needs A Lift
Recently, Nina Oyama has stayed behind the writer’s desk, working for The Chaser and ABC’s Utopia, as well as working on her own TV show. The Sydney comedian returns to the stage with a stand-up set about all of her driving mishaps. There’s a lot of them.

The Factory Theatre
September 26, 28 & 30, 8.15pm. $10–$15

Tom Walker: King Baby Live
Tom Walker is one of Australia’s fast-emerging comedic voices, a deft improviser and cast member of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Australia. Off the back of a successful season at Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Walker returns to Sydney with King Baby Live, a mysterious new show with little information bar its odd name. We’re in.

The Factory Theatre
September 27 & 29, 9.30pm; October 1, 8.30pm. $10–$15

sydneyfringe.com