James Stevenson was born a mere fifteen minutes before Benjamin. Yet, a quarter-hour is a big deal for these competitive identical twins and their sometimes-strained relationship – following Ben’s 2020 wedding, James still resents not being the Best Man.
Together, Ben and James are The Stevenson Experience. Their MICF show Stranger Twins gives them another outlet for their rivalry, sometimes through song.
For around 10 years The Stevenson Experience have toured Australia and internationally, having sell-out seasons at Edinburgh Fringe and elsewhere. Whilst their MICF blurb claim of being “Australia’s hottest musical comedians” is at least a contestable one, they do put on an energetic hour.
With Ben on keyboard and James playing guitar, the pair harmonise well, and sing songs which sometimes made me think of what Sammy J might sound like in an angry mood.
Perhaps due to a loss of match fitness due to COVID, there were a few stumbles with cues early, but also some good efforts to adapt and get back on track.
Unusually, the show allowed one brother to interrupt the other if they don’t like a joke; by raising a hand and saying “Criticise” – each has an opening to present a better version.
The pair often took the chance to aim zingers at each other, earning some good laughs. There was a hint of nutty thinking, such as on proposing to your girlfriend by getting her to complete a task, which was a nice change from the interpersonal sniping.
The show is “suitable for audiences 16+”, but is not too heavy on the coarse language. It could have used a little tightening; a song on objectifying males in a Hip-Hop song was somewhat overused.
Better efforts included songs about competitive tiredness, and on having a Wing Mum who’s trying to find you a girlfriend to satisfy her need for grandchildren.
Even though the audience was only seven people in a decent-sized venue, The Stevenson Experience did their best to work the room and keep the enthusiasm up.
Whilst there’s not a lot of deep thinking here, the show moves along at a good pace, should tighten up over the season, and is already an entertaining hour.
The Stevenson Experience – Stranger Twins
Parthenon – Greek Centre, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
Performance: Thursday 25 March 2021
Season continues to 18 April 2021
Information and Bookings: www.comedyfestival.com.au
Image: Ben and James Stevenson (supplied)
Review: Jason Whyte