FRINGEWORLD 2017 – Parlour Games (4.5 stars)

Review by Laura Money

Tooth + Nail are back with a charmingly beautiful piece of performance art that takes you back to those rainy days of innocence, when all you wanted to do was play pirates or adventures. It’s a wonderful piece of nostalgia that tugs on the heartstrings as plays a joyous ditty with a twinge of loss woven into it.

Starting in an innocuous manner, a man returns home after World WII (it is not made clear how long he has been back) and sits heavily in his well-worn armchair. As he reminisces and is obviously overcome with emotion looking over old trinkets and photographs, the ghosts of his past spring out from behind the furniture, larking about and urging him to play.

The action moves to a nursery in a bygone era – the mid-Edwardian glamour of silent movies and war-adventures – and three children are playing rather boisterously. Interrupted by their little brother, the children quieten down before delving into a long-form play adventure of their own. Each child is charming and likeable, from the adventurous and passionate Oliver (Francois Lecomte) to the eldest Edward (Adam Gordon) who plays the villain of the piece, to the youngest, Theodore (Preben Rongve) who is adorable in his sincerity, and hilariously bossy Constance (Harriet Feeny.) Actors, take note – these guys have acting as children down to an art. They are believable and adorable without sounding like adults play-acting or mimicking children.

Inspired by silent films and the Gothic adventure tales of the high seas, the children play out the courtship of Lady Isabella and the jealous Count who locks her away, requiring her lover to find and rescue her from his litany of evil henchmen. (Well, ok henchman singular.) Using hand-held torches and furniture and sheets, the foursome create wonderful shadow-play, and full environments with just their imaginations and a few props like narrations on cards evocative of silent films. Running throughout the children’s play-acting are small vignettes of post-war soldiers trying to cope with their lives. They serve as a stark reminder that adventure is not all it’s cracked up to be, and that you might not always be in control of your story.

Everything about this piece is charming. The way the actors create hallways, windows, ships, and desert with nothing more than each other and basic props is reminiscent of those lazy days creating blanket forts and having adventures. Feeny shines as the precocious ‘author’ of the tale as she doesn’t hesitate to tell her siblings they’re doing it wrong! If you loved to play make-believe when you were young, Parlour Games is absolutely the show for you. Come on down and recapture the magic of youth.


When: 31st January – 11th February 2017 | 7:30pm

Where: The Blue Room Theatre | Fringe Central | PERTH

Tickets: $21 – $26

Info: Duration 55 minutes | Suitable 15+