The thunder rumbles and the rain rolls down the windows, and by torchlight Theodore explores the darkened chambers of the country house he shares with his siblings, pulling dust sheets from the unused furniture, Edward hiding alongside the treasure his brother seeks, while Constance and Oliver are close behind.
The year is 1927, and without the supervision of their parents they must make their own entertainment, eldest Eddie (Adam Gordon) in his silk dressing gown in some ways the ringleader, Constance (Harriet Feeny) in her white nightgown the leading lady of their games of make-believe while in their matching pyjamas Theo (Preben Rongve) sulks while twin Oliver (François Lecomte) seeks comfort, but all take great delight in killing each other and playing dramatic death scenes.
Though this is the debut Fringe show of Tooth and Nail Theatre, each of the four are accomplished and capable performers, channelling the mannerisms and physicality of children and convincing in their squabbling sibling relationships. Much of the simple narrative of their imaginary adventures is told in the melodramatic style of silent movies in the flickering torchlight to piano accompaniment, critical lines delivered in the form of spoken intertitles.
With each vying for control of the games, sometimes plot twists are outvoted, the children demanding scenes be played again with different outcomes, with Eddie grudgingly conceding that sometimes he must allow the defiant younger children to have their way.
While there are moments the mimed narrative appears to drift and become unclear, each is followed by a clarifying epiphany which delights the audience as they are let in on the joke, but that knowledge brings no safety as the storm closes in on the house and Oliver’s ship is tossed upon the waves, leaving him shipwrecked.
What is as yet not fully developed is the idea of what is happening beyond the confines of the unused attic room that the children are so desperate to occupy their minds to forget, the sinister unspoken absence of their parents, but as this is an adaptive piece of theatre, elements shifting and transforming with each performance, one night those particular ghosts may yet come a-knocking in the night…