Parlour Games

Parlour Games Adelaide Fringe 2021★★★

The Green Guys Company. The Arch , Holden Street Theatres. 20 Feb 2021


The parlour room set was exquisite and belonged to a teahouse called Monkwell Manor, not to be confused with Monkswell Manor. The usual suspects arrive, the power is dodgy, the storm is stormy, and the phone line is cut. Sounds a bit like The Mousetrap. This time, Agatha Christie herself is the guest of honour – but alas, she is gone missing yet the seven guests and bewildered host are hopeful she’ll turn up anyway. Will Agatha Christie arrive? To pass the time, Dr McQueen suggests a macabre parlour game that is a melange of The Mousetrap and Clue. Will the menace turn into malice? Aw, shucks, the subtitle of the play is Who Killed Agatha Christie? It’s a convoluted whodunnit, but I guess that’s the point.


Playwright Neale Irwin has a lot of fun with Agatha Christie by combining her life and her oeuvre. An epilogue provided some context for the narrative – a fictitious guess about the ten days of her real-life disappearance in December 1926 (her mother died in April and her husband left her in August). One of the characters is Major Belcher, a friend of the husband’s lover. And the husband’s lover was named Neele. Wait, isn’t the author also named Neale? Spooky. And I think I saw the makings of Miss Marple in the parlour?

Irwin, director Zoe Tidemann and the players channel the Christie catalogue with alacrity and verve, with the help of stunningly detailed costuming. The characterisations are bright and intriguing even if stereotyped and familiar. Tidemann gives each their star turn but the overplay inherent in a spoof was successful only to varying degrees. A difficult balance indeed.


Near the end of the play, audience members are invited to guess who the culprit is via a website vote accessed with a QR code - a useless gesture as it is subsequently unmentioned.


Charming idea to weave the author into one of her murderous plots in this world premiere production.


David Grybowski


When: 19 to 28 Feb

Where: Holden Street Theatres