Walking Tour (Adelaide Fringe Festival, 2 March 2023)
Parkside, an old suburb just to the south of the Parklands which encircle the Adelaide CBD, is famous for one of the most well-known of all Adelaide’s infamous homicides – the one known as “the body-in-the-freezer murder”. But, while those of us who knew someone involved in this macabre crime, or who worked in the odd building which housed the freezer, are familiar indeed with the gory details, there are some – particularly people born this century – who must have only a vague notion of the events, if any notion at all. And surely some of the guests joining The Oily Rag Theatre’s ‘The Dark Side of Parkside’ tours would be interested to know more about the most startling event to ever occur in that suburb.
Strangely, however, our hosts on the tour on an early March night mentioned it a few times cryptically and only in passing. Nor did they take the tour to the nearby bare triangle of land where the hemlock-ceilinged, skateboard-track-like building once stood. The building was levelled by the Bhagwan (yes, The Beatles’ Bhagwan, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh) who bought it because it sat next door to the birthplace of his right-hand man and had otherwise favourable Vedic aspects (whether those include the original owner being shot in the head and stuffed into a piece of kitchen equipment is a moot point). An interesting spot, surely, for those interested in Parkside’s nether regions?
Also rather odd was the repeated lack of connection between the historical event described on the tour and the place in which we stood. The path trodden by the 20 or so guests seemed to be mostly random.
These shortcomings, however, do not detract from the overall entertaining aspects of the Oily Rag Theatre’s Parkside tour. As the dusk settled, enraged dogs barked and the bats threw fruit around, most of the 20 or so of us who trod the uneven footpaths of the venerable poor sister of Unley were engaged and cheerful. There were florid tales of couples violently de-coupling, consciously and not: mostly of the crime passionnel variety, Parkside locals being a bit more honest in their bad behaviour and untroubled by Deoxyribonucleic acid.
Heather Crawford and Shannon Norfolk played deceased sisters Annie and Penny (spirits who were summoned to guide us). They were confident and professional, although our theatre friend was disappointed that they read from scripts, and tended to talk down to the crowd, as ghosts do. Another friend would have liked clearer exposition of the history of Parkside. (We did say “most of the 20 or so of us…were engaged and cheerful”). We at TVC feel that these criticisms miss the point. The Oily Rag Theatre’s tours lead by bickering ghosts in appropriately ghastly green period dresses (made by one of the ghosts) are a lighthearted exposition of the weirder aspects of our suburbs. They are inventive and inexpensive; not Oscar-eligible performances or historical treatises.
Even though the Parkside tours are booked out, the team was very good about letting us change our tickets when the night of the tour which we were originally scheduled to attend was just too hot.