Arts / Comedy

‘Suburban mayhem at its finest’

Characters for the show are drawn from Brunswick archetypes

The cast of Stickybeak are (front, left to right) Laura Trenerry, Jessie Ngaio, Kimberley Twiner and (back) Patrick Dwyer.

Mark Phillips

BRUNSWICK residents will instantly recognise the characters in a new Melbourne International Comedy Festival show – and if they look hard enough, they may even see a little bit of themselves.

Much of Stickybeak, which will be performed at The Malthouse theatre from April 16 to 21, was written and developed in Brunswick and Coburg, based on observations by the four cast members of characters from their local neighbourhoods.

The show was first performed to sell-out audiences at last year’s Melbourne Fringe Festival, earning a five star review from The Age and ultimately being named the festival’s best comedy.

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Kimberley Twiner – who performs and devised the show with Jessie Ngaio, Laura Trenerry and Patrick Dwyer – said Stickybeak had struck a chord with audiences because of its simplicity and relatability.

Described as “suburban mayhem at its finest”, the show revolves around a group of recognisable characters living in the same street and the awkward interactions they have.

Each of the actors plays numerous human and animal characters in a fast-paced show featuring a minimalist set and costume changes.

“It’s three houses that are next to each other, and each house is quite different from the next,” said Twiner.

“So immediately, when three houses are very different, it already sets up a lot of funny tension for conflict and weird moments and people poking each other, accidentally or purposefully, in the wrong ways.”

The three houses represent familiar inner northern suburbs archetypes: an elderly couple with a large fruit garden, an upper middle-class family, and a family renting a ramshackle house. Each household is defined by its fence.

Twiner, who is a co-founder of the Brunswick East Entertainment Festival performing troupe, said many of the ideas for the show came from observations of living in the Brunswick area.

She said the concept of a show about what goes on behind fences emerged during the COVID lockdowns, when she would use her half an hour of exercise each day by walking around her local neighbourhood.

“All of us have lived in northside, Brunswick, Coburg for a fair while and the changing face of these suburbs is very much in in the background of this show,” she said.

“When you’re an artist, you’re taking in everything all the time, without even knowing it. And then when it comes to the time of creation, what has gone in will come out in the work … It’s all very much inadvertently taken from the real world.”

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The four performers in Stickybeak all have backgrounds in physical comedy and have known each other for years but this is their first show together.

Twiner has won numerous awards and toured internationally with her queer feminist comedy troupe PO PO MO CO, and has also won two Green Room Awards. The other three performers are also award winners and nominees.

Along with teaching physical theatre, Twiner continues to run Brunswick East Entertainment Festival along with her partner Lily Fish, who is the director of Stickybeak.

BEEF grew out of daily dance performances four housemates would present on the front lawn of their share house in Nicholson Street simply to let off steam during the COVID lockdowns.

BEEF has since become a permanent company that is available for hire for festivals and other events.

“That act gives us work and has generated a lot of other kind of opportunities for us and the company now consists of quite a large ensemble of people that we’ve had to train up in order to meet the demand of the work that we’ve been offered,” Twiner said.

Stickybeak is on in The Tower at The Malthouse, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank at 6.45pm on April 16 to 20, and 5.45pm on April 21. Tickets are $28 to $38 and the show is suitable for audiences aged 13 and above.

Brunswick Voice has one double pass to give away to a lucky reader. To enter, send an email with ‘I love my neighbours’ in the subject line to

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