Review by Josie Montano
Eve’s Game transported us to the late 1800’s when young ladies immersed in the Brisbane Victorian social scene played parlour games for entertainment. This interactive theatre is the brainchild of Jo Willans of Republic of Song and is debuting at the Brisbane Anywhere Festival.
Such a pleasant and intimate theatre experience, ten patrons become the guests of Brisbane’s popular and engaging Eve Harrison. Having just returned from her London social debut, the guests are invited to partake in the parlour game of Paschal at her home, the historical Miegunyah House. Guests are given name tags and are immediately ushered to a quaint tea and biscuits settings on the latticed verandah where Miss Harrison, who is apparently based on a Brisbane socialite, presents an introductory monologue. In hindsight I do wish I paid more attention to Eve’s storytelling on the verandah, but was a little too distracted and excited about the silver service tea party delivered by the straight-faced maid (Jo Willans).
We were then welcomed into the exquisite historical home, and immediately immersed into the lady-detective’s parlour game where we all became ace-sleuths, I love how everyone remained in character and also channelled upper class accents. Venturing from room to room, we all worked together to solve the disappearance of a young woman through a combination of puzzles, hidden messages, codes, and much more. Eve and her maid kept the parlour game moving with not only the ongoing investigation but allowing patrons to don hats, veils and corsets until the historical mystery was solved.
The one hour theatre world premiere of Eve’s Game not only explores the Victorian Brisbane times, but feminism in the 19th century, mother-daughter relationships and rites of passage. Ironically my adult daughter attended with me who thoroughly enjoyed the historical education of not only life in the 19th century but life for women, plus she had a lot of good old fashioned fun!
Eve’s Game is written and directed by the extremely versatile Jo Willans, who not only is a Brisbane soprano, and founded the production company Republic of Song, but also plays the solemn and serious housekeeper. Tim Monley is the co-director, and talented actress and singer Ashlea Sloman performs as the energetic, excitable and enthusiastic Eve Harrison.
Supported by Miegunyah House and the Queensland Women's Historical Association, there is street parking at the front or the rear of the Bowen Hills house for your ‘carriage’. Arriving 10 minutes earlier will allow you to sign in and be briefed by the ‘Butler’. As tea is served on the verandah, bring something warm to wear, although crocheted blankets were also available. And don’t forget your reading glasses if you want to experience reading the clues and letters comfortably.
This unique and intimate show is a cross between Downton Abbey and Ebola Holmes, and as a fan of both of these, I was really in my element. I highly recommend the experience of not only the historical story that Eve’s Game unravels, but the exquisite collection within the historical museum, Miegunyah House.