Meg Taranto & Elliot Wood: Pass the Parcel! {Melbourne International Comedy Festival} – Comedy Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

When was the last time you played pass the parcel? Was there a prize in every layer, or just one big prize at the end? In my family we only had one prize in the middle and I couldn’t remember the last time I played until a game of Pass the Parcel! that’s also a theatre show. The party is for Meg Taranto and Elliot Wood and, if you want, they’ll make this round of Pass the Parcel! of the most intense you’ll ever play.

An interactive theatre experience can be a divisive one as not everyone is willing to participate, so Meg Taranto and Elliot Wood are upfront, offering a way for audience members to opt out of the interactive aspect, and it was actually very on theme.

When you enter the room, the party has already started, Taranto and Wood are playing a game and there’s two party hats on every seat, one solid colour and ones with balloons. After welcoming guests and introductions, the party hats are explained: A solid hat colour means you want to play, a hat with balloons means you’d rather just spectate. I quickly popped on a solid hat, with a majority of the audience doing the same. Some donned balloon hats and I’m sure I don’t need to explain pass the parcel rules to you here.

The music started, the round began, and after one rotation the parcel stopped on my partner. Meg’s character gleefully skipped over, looked at him closely, and asked “What’s your name?”. He responded with “Alex” to which Meg replied, “Can I watch you unwrap it?”. Then, unwrapping his layer, Alex’s prize was revealed to be a Pokémon water ring game, to which upon seeing, Meg and Elliot ecstatically began cheer.

The more layers that were opened, the zanier the prizes were, and now the storyline began to develop. Meg wanted to play but Elliot would constantly continue to deny her of that fun. Things then fell into a controlled chaos. Meg and Elliot would either unwrap layers or be able to show off for the audience. At this point, audience members could unwrap prizes that ranged from; receiving lavender seeds, seeing Elliot to practise his standup, and a rapid drawn portrait by Meg. But, by far the best moment was an audience member winning a free ice cream that turned into a hilarious sketch routine with Meg going off script and threatening Elliot at gun point because of his ice cream flavour choice.

The absolute fun of Pass the Parcel! does have is faults, mostly when the dynamic of Elliot and Meg changed which was a part of the show’s narrative, and I understand what they were going for, but it was still jarring at times. It’s difficult to articulate how much silly fun Pass the Parcel! was and you might actually be in complete disbelief by how much enjoyment you’ll get from this show, even if you don’t win a prize.

Pass the Parcel! is undeniably and contagiously fun, so it’s a shame that the story elements of the show did get a little lost. As a festival debut, this is still a very impressive one. Due to the content and performances, Pass the Parcel would be a perfect Melbourne Fringe show, and I would go again.

Pass the Parcel! is playing as part of the 2024 Melbourne International Comedy Festival at Tasma Terrace until April 7.
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