Theatre review: Teeth and Tonic, Melbourne Fringe

Friends unite in smashing the patriarchy.

The backwardness of our legal system, all but granting immunity to the privileged, is the crux of Teeth and Tonic, a feminist and comic play about a cluster of Melbourne Millennials. 

The action mainly transpires in the lounge room of Frankie (Megan Scolyer-Gray) and Bec (Isabella Patane), roommates whose zippy back-and-forth, embedded with relatable quips and references, is a highlight of the show. The décor makes an ethos clear: sex-positive art, vases shaped like voluptuous bodies, a stack of contemporary books, the word F**K spelled out in quaint wooden letters on the wall. In the first scene, Frankie is cosy on the couch in cannabis-patterned socks, while Bec bobs on the footstool, troubled by the callousness of her boyfriend, Matt (River Stevens). 

Matt, who we soon see skulking around in trendy black clothing, is an unequivocal villain. After Bec musters enough nerve to break up with him, he threatens and stalks her, culminating in a frightening attempt to choke her in her own home. In the nick of time, Frankie charges out and conks Matt on the head with a frying pan, knocking him down. Thereon, the play toggles between farcical humour, emotional reckonings, and a mix of panic and relief over possibly having killed a powerful man. 

Teeth and Tonic features two non-binary characters: Liam (Michael Sakinofsky), sweet and squawky, and shy about their crush on Frankie; and a perkier friend referred to as Orange Juice Person (Bugs Baschera), after a bad acid trip that has left them sporadically transfixed by orange juice. The duo are eventually swept up in the dilemma at Frankie and Bec’s place. It’s a shame that the majority of Liam and Frankie’s moments together feel hasty, as their dynamic seems rich with potential comedy and cuteness. 

I revel in the staunchness and remorselessness of Teeth and Tonic’s message, but feel a little cheated when it is delivered as an artless PSA. For example, the line ‘F**k the patriarchy’, which caps off the show, has been readily available on social media for years, and perhaps shouldn’t be pronounced as if it is inherently profound today.

Given the fourth-wall-break of the final scene and the overt nature of the play’s ‘politicalness’, I wish our attention could be directed toward Teeth and Tonic’s virtual program, which includes a list of services to consult for any of the issues portrayed.

Read: Film review: Richard Mosse: Broken Spectre

Across the board, the acting is excellent. Scolyer-Gray is a hoot; Patane manages to bridge heart-wrenching fear with light-hearted frustration; Stevens commits to psychopathy; Sakinofsky and Baschera squabble and offer moral support with ease. For anyone craving an audacious response to odious behaviour, Teeth and Tonic is the thing to see. 

Teeth and Tonic
Written and Performed by: Megan Scolyer-Gray
Director: Maya Britbart Ellazam

Tickets: $23-$35

Teeth and Tonic will be performing until 22 October 2022 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival

Olivia Arcaro is a freelance writer and English tutor based in Naarm/Melbourne. A student of RMIT University’s Bachelor of Creative Writing, she is at work on a collection of essays and a coming-of-age novel. You can contact her at, or on Instagram: @oliviaarcaro.