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In Conversation with Jackson Peele | FRINGE HUB 2022

Updated: Oct 6, 2022

After its cancellation in January due to covid, Neylon & Peele's comedy smash hit THE BEEP TEST is back! We chat to Jackson Peele about the origin of the show + its return this Melbourne Fringe.

One day my writing partner Conor approached me in the halls of WAAPA with one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve ever heard: to make the intense right of passage so many Australians have feared, loved and/or downright despised into a musical. Yes, to turn The Beep Test into (of all things)… a musical. I thought no way, that’s not gonna work.

Conor: ‘Nah, hear me out, like all these desperate students trying to fit in and an enthusiastic sport teacher. It’s perfect.’

Me: ‘Nah…’

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the annual Cabaret Prize at our university is coming up and we don’t have anything up our sleeves. Conor turns to me:

Conor: ‘We gotta do Beep Test, right?’

Me: ‘Absolutely.’

We run a couple of workshops with our peers at WAAPA looking at high school character archetypes with strong objectives and it becomes clear that this is going to work. Not only that, it’s an absolute blast to write and workshop too! There’s ridiculous, over the top humour, fast-paced dialogue, references to zooper-doopers and other Australianisms, and songs emerging such as: ‘Beep Beep Beep,’ (inspired by the three notes that play for each level, perhaps Conor’s greatest stroke of genius??!?!? [hot take!]), ‘Chase that Ball,’ and of course, ‘One Mug, Two Scoops of Milo.’

At the Cabaret Prize we present a 10 minute version of the work with some of our incredibly talented peers in the cast and are lucky enough to take home the number one spot. Using this opportunity, we go on to present a 50 minute version of the work at Perth Fringe in 2020 to sell-out crowds in a very intimate, DIY, art gallery converted theatre space!

Fast forward again, this October we are super excited to be presenting the work in Melbourne. This version (delayed twice due to COVID) will be taking the original intimate, feel-the-actors-sweat-onstage environment and giving it a little level up in Theatreworks fantastic Explosive Factory! Conor and I are so excited to be working with a brand-new cast of local actors and creatives who are all uniquely fantastic and talented in their own right. It’s been a long time coming but we cannot wait to see as many people in the audience clapping along, remembering the pain, enjoying the absurdity, the music and choreography and having a good old laugh!

You really don’t have to be a ‘musical theatre person’ (whatever that is) to see it!

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