Parlour Games

Parlour Games is a classy, original and nostalgic piece of theatre brought to us by Tooth+Nail, a company comprised of four talented Jacques Lecoq graduates. This company use physical theatre, low key acrobatics, torches, shadow play and vintage subtitles to present this stunning piece. The show spans two different time periods presenting a man’s adulthood and childhood.

One of the most unique shows I have ever seen at the Fringe.

Opening in 1945, Theodore returns to his childhood home possibly after the war. With swing music playing from an antique radio interrupted by the sounds of sirens and a report on Eisenhower and a gentle breeze blowing, the atmosphere is set. This has to be the classiest introduction to a show I have ever seen; everything about the set, costume, props and lighting is so carefully thought out. As an audience member I am immediately transported back to World War II era. Tooth+Light effectively use music to narrate the opening scene and Simon Gleave gracefully moves about the stage examining every object in the room.

There is an almost The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe feel when Edward, Constance and Oliver appear and we are brought back to 1927 on a nostalgic trip into Theo’s childhood. The four children take pleasure in recreating gothic scenes with romance, villains and duels. Constance played by the wonderful Harriet Feeny humorously revels in melodrama and likes to be the heroine in all of their scenes. This is a visually spectacular piece and the company create silent movie scenes using spotlights, torches and hand held subtitles. Their over dramatic facial expressions are wonderfully reminiscent of this era. This show is mainly performed through physical theatre with occasional interludes of speech. For me the silent sequences are definitely superior to the latter and this show could definitely work as a completely physical performance.

Some of their sketches or parlour games are comical while others are violent. Gunshots in the background disturb their make believe world serving as a reminder of the looming threat of war. Theo is ejected back into the present. This is one of the most unique shows I have ever seen at the Fringe. Tooth+Nail are masters at their craft and it is very evident the amount of careful collaboration and thought that has been put into this retro and visually stunning piece.

Reviews by Lynn Rusk

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The Blurb

1945. An unknown man returns to his childhood home. 1927. Four children play a delightfully dark, frightfully funny game. Edward, Constance, Oliver and Theo revel in gothic fantasy – a joyfully cruel world of castles, dungeons and (willingly) kidnapped heroines. But the violence of a real and half-forgotten war lurks beyond the torchlight... Will surrounding shadows unleash the darkness within? Born of gothic novels and silent films, Parlour Games blends acrobatics, shadow-play and beautifully inventive visuals. Funny, playful and haunting theatre from award-winning Tooth+Nail. 'Wonderful... A joyous ditty with a twinge of loss' ****½ (Australia Times).