Blank Tiles

11/08/17

Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Some shows grab hold of you instantly – others take a little time to establish themselves. Blank Tiles is definitely a slow burn affair. At first I find myself thinking, ‘Who is this guy? Why is he so repetitive? And why does he keep recording every little utterance he makes?’ And then it begins to dawn on me just where writer/performer Dylan Cole is going with this… and the story becomes more affecting, more tragic, and ultimately heartbreaking.

Austin Michaels is a World Scrabble champion, a man who has memorised over 200,000 words in order to win his world title. As he recounts his story, he constantly refers to a large scrabble board on an easel beside him, using various combinations of the same letters to spell out key points in his life story. But Austin is gradually falling prey to a terrible condition, one that will ultimately rob him of the most important thing in his life – his ability to remember.

This is a powerful monologue, nicely performed by Cole (who, it turns out, is Australian, though you’d never guess it from his Northern Brit accent) and it holds the audience enraptured until its tragic conclusion. Amidst a whole plethora of one-person shows at this year’s Fringe, it’s definitely one you shouldn’t miss. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Scrabble aficionado to appreciate this compelling story.

4.4 stars

Philip Caveney

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