MICF – The Beaks Stickybeak

by | Apr 22, 2024

By Nick Pilgrim

The Beaks – Stickybeak
The Tower, Malthouse Theatre Southbank
Reviewed on Thursday April 18, 2024

As the Melbourne International Comedy Festival starts winding down for another year, there is still plenty to see and do.

Critiquing the 2024 event has been quite the journey. Of the acts I have enjoyed so far, each experience could not be more diverse or different.

More than any other time, reviewing the MICF is a deep dive into the unknown. One of its many joys is watching talent for the first time.

Directed by Lily Fish, Patrick Dwyer, Jessie Ngaio, Laura Trennery, and Kimberley Twiner are the real deal. With an impressive list of individual and shared acting and creative credits, Stickybeak is a refreshing change of pace.

Set over a single day, this fifty-five-minute presentation is a clever snapshot into the quirky rules, rituals and boundary crossings which impact our daily lives. Consisting of both short and long form vignettes, the team’s expert pacing always maintains our attention.

In short, Stickybeak is the lovechild of Kath and Kim, Neighbours, Play School, Circus Oz, the Snuff Puppets, and a hectic theatre sports challenge combined. At times, I also felt flashes of renowned physical comic legends like Jacques Tati, Jim Carrey or Carol Burnett, MAD TV, and Chicago’s Second City.

Stickybeak’s biggest strength rests in its deceptive simplicity. Never more have people and pets been scrutinized and reduced to their most dominant character traits.

As viewers identify with and laugh at the hyperactivity unfolding on stage, this is a trust exercise pushed to the limit. You can’t help but marvel at the troupe’s ability to play multiple roles and juggle props with pinpoint accuracy. Often, with barely seconds to spare between changing hats, each actor committed and carried themselves, producing an entirely new result every time.

Some of the show’s many intertwined highlights and stand-out moments include:

  • The harried dad in charge of two tantrum-throwing toddlers,
  • The smug teenage girl determined to sneak off to a party without her parents’ consent,
  • The bickering but loving older couple,
  • A runaway chicken with a mind of its own, and
  • A gentle but territorial cat confronted by the excitable pit bull next door.

The list goes on.

As someone who works in the secondary school system, I was instantly reminded of visiting ensembles which introduce students to the joy of live theatre and the performing arts. Stickybeak checks similar boxes for audience members keen but unsure about dipping in their toes in this realm for the first time as well.

The show plays for a limited number of performances until the final day of the festival this weekend. A welcome addition to my growing list of favourites, I look forward to The Beaks’ next venture with keen interest.

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