Review by Carly Fisher
If you went to primary school in Australia any time from the late 1980s, you would most likely have done the beep test. Whether you have memories of training hard to try and improve your beep test score, or bailing out early so you could chat with your best friend (I’m the latter), you would unquestionably remember running back and forth in a line to beat the sound of the beep. This nostalgia is exactly what emerging writers Conor Neylon and Jackson Peele have clearly hoped for in writing this musical. It is definitely for a Gen Y/Gen Z audience but it is an exciting indication of the talent that we have coming up in the musical theatre industry in Australia.
Following the journey of 4 students from Year 7C, The Beep Test is an endearing reflection of being a 13 year old that sees the characters each openly express issues like parental pressure, self confidence, being bullied, peer pressure and more. Laced with jokes, the heart of the story is definitely still there and still prevalent - it is easy to quickly feel for these characters. Rounding out the cast is the PE teacher that everyone has met - the footy obsessed, dominating male figure in every physical education department. As a cast of 5, this group does exceptionally well to carry this sweet musical with a perfectly limited set, band and lighting rig that makes it the consummate fringe show.
Though all strong, for me, the stand out performer was Sara Reed, whom I hope Australia gets to see on a bigger stage soon. Reed is the type of performer that does not just shine when it is her turn for a solo or dance break, but instead is also an extremely professional ensemble member too, supporting every song and dance number with precision and passion.
As an ensemble, the five cast members - Reed, Jack Keen, Jo Jabalde, Josh Reckless and Lachie Hewson work exceptionally well together. Their training is clear, the commitment is obvious and energy palpable. The choreography is timed to perfection with each unquestionably giving their all on stage. This caliber of talent is extremely high for a fringe production. Each brought a sincerity to their character that enhanced the lightness of this piece immensely.
The show has been receiving rave reviews everywhere that it has been and it is easy to see why - this is a classic Aussie story, told by young Aussie up and comers. At an Australian fringe festival, this is exactly the kind of show you want to support and I hope that they continue to find fringes to participate in around the country - this is exactly the stage that this show was made for and I think that as a festival show, this piece will continue to garner great responses.
Overall, this is an entertaining way to spend an hour this Adelaide Fringe, particularly if you’re a Gen Y/Zer who will have your own memories of the Beep Test. I hope that it is a show that encourages more young people to get out to the theatre and support this talented troupe.
Image Credit: Jamois