If you’re looking for a heart-warming, bittersweet comedy this Fringe season, then Blank Tiles is the show for you. Blank Tiles is a hilarious one-man show written and performed by Melbourne’s Dylan Cole, following the fictional story of former Scrabble world champion, Austin Michaels as he tries to hold on to his most treasured memories before he loses them to Alzheimer’s disease.
Cole plays the role of Austin, an awkward scrabble enthusiast who eagerly recounts his early memories of playing scrabble, accompanied on stage with post it notes, a tape recorder and a large scrabble board propped up next to him. You’re initially drawn in by Michaels’ gawky yet enthusiastic personality, combined with the glitz and glamour of the early 90s Scrabble World Championships, before you’re hit with emotion as his memory progressively deteriorates.
With the enthusiasm of a cheesy game show host, Michaels shares the secret to winning Scrabble is knowing over 200,000 words, before jumping into anecdote after anecdote that showcases his miraculous knowledge of words and downright passion for scrabble. He also tells the audience that the key to winning is having a knack for anagrams, which is when the large scrabble board comes to play. Michaels spells out a variety of phrases throughout the night that relate to his stories, using only the number of tiles on the scrabble board, without having any tiles leftover.
Blank Tiles is an honest and authentic look at the painful illness that is Alzheimer’s disease, with Cole’s incredible acting and storytelling drawing in the audience and compelling everyone to connect and sympathise with his unique character. The audience share Michaels’ frustration and confusion whenever he loses his train of thought, with the emotion intensifying as his memory deteriorates throughout the performance. Michaels prided himself on his ability to recall words and anagrams and now he cannot recall the moments that once meant the world to him.
Blank Tiles is an emotional roller-coaster that will stay with you once you leave the venue. It’s hilarious, moving and inspirational and if anything, you’ll be amazed by Cole’s ability to recall scrabble facts, word scores and anagrams. It is a clever little performance with lo-fi production, that will kick you in the feels whilst also giving you the giggles.
Where: Room 2 Tuxedo Cat, 1-10 Franklin St, Adelaide, 5000
When: 17-28 February
Tickets Available here.
Star Rating: 4/5
Header Image via Dylan Cole