A moustached woman, a man in a dress, a giant birdcage and a 19th-century Swedish playwright - strange bedfellows, perhaps, but the combination seems to be working well for Wollongong director Chris Dunstan.
Most students are happy to see the back of their university assignments, but Mr Dunstan - a recent University of Wollongong performance graduate - has turned a university task into The Defence, a play that has been winning rave reviews at the Sydney Fringe Festival and is about to open at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre.
"It's a satirical yet sinister play that myself and a number of friends from UOW, past and present students, devised together," Mr Dunstan said.
"It was initially developed at the university in mid-2012, and with the support of Merrigong's development program we've developed it into what it is today."
Centring on classic Swedish playwright - and noted misogynist - August Strindberg, the performance explores gender roles as a woman plays a man and a man plays a woman. Dunstan and his small team spent several weeks workshopping the piece with the Make It At Merrigong development program in February.
"The program allows artists to access our space and creative resources, to help develop their work," Merrigong artistic associate Anne-Louise Rentell said.
Make It At Merrigong offers professional guidance and support in developing local works, as well as offering material support through hosting productions at the IPAC including marketing, budget and advertising.
Since opening at the Sydney Fringe Festival, The Defence has attracted its fair share of plaudits and fans, and will stage three performances at the IPAC.
"It's nice this is how we're ending the run. Merrigong has been supporting the project since the start, and our success at Sydney is really due to the support of Merrigong and the university."
The Defence opens Friday night, with a Saturday matinee and evening performance as well.