Presented by Dylan Cole
Reviewed 20 February 2017
Blank Tiles follows the fictional 1992 World Scrabble Champion Austin Michaels as he comes to terms with his fast-developing Alzheimers disease. The man who once knew over two-hundrend thousand words now cannot even remember his own shopping list. By trying to record his memories on tape, he takes the audience through his life in the years leading up to the championship. Filled with humour and charm this show is highly enjoyable but the script and some storytelling devices come across as clunky.
As Austin Michaels, Dylan Cole delivers a performance of masterful quality. From the second he enters the stage he is engaging, funny and endlessly liekable. His characterisation is rock solid throughout and he plays the slow breakdown of his memories perfectly. Undoubtedly, this performance is what makes the show worth seeing.
Sound and lighting are both used to great effect in the small space. Small lighting changes added greatly to the tone of many scenes and served the production well as did the multiple music cues. The set was very colourful and appealing but elements seemed a little underused apart from a large magnetic Scrabble board.
This board is one of two small issues that prevent the show from reaching the perfection that it is very close to attaining. Throughout the show Cole manipulates the letters on the board to make several key phrases that deliver plot points. His ability to make several combinations of words out of a certain set of letters is very impressive but this story mechanic does come across as a little clunky. Similarly, there were two instances where Cole became a film-noir inspired character as he attempted to seduce his wife. Despite being very amusing and very well performed this did not seem to match the structure of the piece which – for the most part – appeared to be about Michaels talking directly to the audience. This character change jolted the audience out of that realist state-of-mind and definitely altered the feel of the show.
Aside from these small issues, however, this production is incredibly hard to fault. The story is funny, heartfelt and thoroughly enjoyable with Cole at its centre delivering an incredible performance more than worth the price of admission. At only 50 minutes long, this is definitely one to squeeze into your Fringe schedule.
Reviewed by Nathan Quadrio
Rating out of 5: 4.5
Venue: Tuxedo Cat
Season: February 20th – Februrary 28th
Duration: 50 mintues
Tickets: $15 – $25