BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

30/10/2014 - 30/10/2014

Production Details

It’s 1851 and in the small English country town of Cottesloe, two charming spinster sisters Tilly and Flora Georgeson are in their parlour with much to occupy them. The latest fabric to be viewed at the haberdashery, bonnets to be trimmed, gossip to be shared and cold drafts to be avoided. And then, there is the daily excitement of the post…and unexpected visitors! A comedy of manners inspired by Jane Austen and Elizabeth Gaskell (Cranford). Tilly and Flora will delight you. This is improvised theatre at its finest. 

After successful seasons in the Melbourne Short & Sweet Theatre Festival 2012 and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2013 this is the first international showing of this crowd pleasing favourite. A show you can safely bring your grandmother or childrend along to see – this is pure G Rated family friendly fun. 

Anna Renzenbrink and Jenny Lovell worked together in the Impro Melbourne Ensemble for over ten years before creating the characters of Tilly and Flora. The show was born from by their mutual passion for period romance and BBC bonnet dramas. Over the last three years they have loved developing these characters through various productions and are excited to give them an international outing for the first time here in NZ. 

Anna Renzenbrink and Jenny Lovell are pleased to announce they will be joined by guests: Lori Dungey, Auckland; Benjamin Crowley, Canberra and Mary Little, Wellington for the NZIF.

Part of the New Zealand Improv Festival
28 October – 1 November at BATS (Out of Site)
3 show passes available! Contact the Box Office for more information – 

Follow the festival online…

BATS (Out of Site)
Thu 30 Oct 6:30pm 
Ticket Prices 
Full $18.00 
Concession $14.00 
Group 6+ $13.00


Truly a delight to hilariously flutter over trivialities

Review by Alex Wilson 31st Oct 2014

Anna Renzenbrink and Jenny Lovell play sisters Tilly and Flora Georgeson respectively: two delightful sisters from the small English country town of Cottesloe. Rezenbrink and Lovell have been developing these characters over the past three years and their time and dedication is on show. Tilly and Flora seem like they have stepped out of the pages of a Jane Austen novel.  

The premise of the piece is simple. Tilly and Flora have invited us into their eponymous salon to tell us of a story of note from Cottesloe. This evening’s story is about the time Flora wished to woo the only eligible bachelor in town (Ben Crowley) in the hope of obtaining a love letter. To achieve this goal they ask for help from some local ladies (Mary Little and Lori Dungey). Unfortunately this plan leads to one of the ladies being betrothed to the gentleman, falling in love through some examples of the recently invented metaphor, leaving Flora sans love note. 

Improvised theatre nearly always focuses on high stakes situations – betrayals, deaths, proposals; we witness characters going through life changing events. What makes Into the Parlour so charming is that the actors maintain the same level of drama but over the lowest of stakes. This is essentially a comedy of manners. The characters are sheltered, privileged, stuck in time and place, ruled by pretence and affectation.

We are left to laugh at these characters as they drown in despair and confusion over the smallest of things: an unfilled envelope, the sparrows becoming quiet, whether or not being interfering is a virtue …. What makes the show a joy to behold is that the cast completely invest these situations with the highest of stakes and, handled with complete sincerity, there is no element of subversiveness or mockery on their behalf.

The danger of this format however is that by focussing on such trivial matters the players need to ensure that they further the action and do not simply settle for outraged rejoinders. These events should not provoke reaction but consequences. However these lulls only happen occasionally and generally by the ‘guest’ members of the cast, showing that this show does require a change of mind-set to perform.

This focus on the minutiae is set early on. As the audience enter we are met with civil pleasantries from the cast, with minor drama occurring from an audience member with poorly fitting trousers and the shocking revelation that someone has brought along a camera, its flash initially confused as lightning before we are told that it is simply a contraption from the Great Exhibition. It should be noted that the focus on the small details also extends to the use of costume and props, with the cast being impeccably dressed and the stage being the exemplar of twee.   

This is one of the few shows at the festival to not incorporate any ask-fors – an interesting choice, as I heard some fellow audience members wondering how much was pre-scripted (which is testament to the convincing world created by the players). There is certainly enough self-awareness in the piece to reassure you this is not the case. However to incorporate ask-fors would destroy the carefully created tone of the piece. Renzenbrink and Lovell want us to enter the parlour from the beginning and not leave until the end. This is an immersive improvised tale; ask-fors would simple move us from this carefully created world. 

However the show’s trump card really is the characters of Tilly and Flora. Renzenbrink and Lovell are a fantastic duo and there is not just a rich understanding of each other as performers but you sense a rich shared history between their characters. The performers know exactly how to pitch their offers to cause the largest change in their partner. It is truly a delight to be invited into the parlour where we can drop all of our troubles and let a bygone geniality wash over us, relaxing with these charmingly exaggerated characters hilariously flutter over the trivialities of life.


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