Rushing on stage to his dressing room, dusting his face with powder, and, very quickly, swallowing his wine, the pianist immediately proves to be a slightly clumsy, ditsy awkward musician.
We don't get to see his actual entrance on stage until several minutes into the performance - there is no gap in the curtain for him to get through bar a small and awkward hole. This opening had the whole audience, adults and children alike laughing from the off. The Pianist's attempt to start his show is from this point on continually thwarted by a badly placed and unprepared set and uncooperative lighting. As he battles his way to finally sit down at the piano, we are treated to an amusing performance of physical theatre, dance and impressive circus skills.
An entire solo show conducted in near silence could be hard to pull off, but Thomas Monckton, who played the pianist, didn't lose our attention once; keeping the audience constantly engaged with new and exciting, if occasionally predictable obstacles to overcome. Having said that, on more than one occasion I found myself gasping - unsure of whether the thing that just went wrong was supposed to happen, although that was just testament to how gullible I am. The characterisation of the pianist was spot on, clumsy and awkward, but constantly aiming to be suave and sometimes, even if accidentally, achieving it.
The set was simple and incredibly effective, with the dust sheet covered piano, a chandelier and at the back a mock dressing room complete with powder and wine for his opening scene. The lighting and music were spot on, complementing the acting perfectly.
The show was fun and easy to watch. It was by no means made solely for kids, as with the very best shows it had enough humour that would go over their heads to keep adults entertained too. While there was nothing particularly emotive about the show it was a heartwarming kind of comedy that left me with a warm glow and a smile on my face even after the show was over.
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The Pianist is on at the Assembly Roxy at 12:25 until 29 August (exc. 10, 15, and 22 August). For tickets and more information, visit the Fringe website.