The start of Dylan Cole’s show, Blank Tiles, would have you believe the world of competitive Scrabble is a nail-biting, edge of your seat type of business. And it very may well be for Austin Michael’s – former world champion Scrabble player.
Blank Tiles is a one-man show performed and written by Dylan Cole, focusing on former world champion Scrabble player Austin Michael, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as he attempts to recount the moments within his life that led him to where he is now.
Dylan Cole fills the role of Austin, playing the nerdy, enthusiastic and amusing Scrabble champion in a manner that wins the audience over instantly. There’s a hint of Taron Egerton’s portrayal of Eddie the Eagle in there somewhere, whether it’s the large glasses worn or the manner in which Cole speaks. Either way, it comes across perfectly; giving us a clear indication of the nature of the character we’ve been introduced to.
Through the use of post-it notes, a tape recorder and a large scrabble board mounted behind him, we’re taken through a recount of Austin Michael’s life, from his memories of his grandmother to the moment he met his wife. The story is heart-warming, Cole’s superb acting allows the audience to emphasise greatly with the character, responding to and enjoying his enthusiasm about the game of Scrabble.
It could be easy to forget that the character of Austin is suffering from memory loss, except for the increasing moments throughout the performance in which his enthusiastic persona drops, and a mask of confusion and slight embarrassment takes over. Praise must be given to Cole for these moments, as the generous gasps and sighs from the audience show that they too feel awful at these times, a deep sense of despair for the character we’ve become somewhat attached to.
If you’re planning on seeing anything at Fringe this year, Blank Tiles is a must. There’s nothing over the top about the act, nothing overly dramatic or showy – music is used sparingly but at perfect moments – it is simply a well-written, well acted and genuinely moving performance.
Blank Tiles is apart of this year’s Fringe Festival, running from 16th – 23rd of September at the Lithuanian Club. Tickets can be purchased here.