/ Royal Croquet Club

The Pianist by Thomas Monckton & Circo Aereo

Thomas Monkton is the pianist, a clumsy but determined professional who just wants to perform for his audience. However, even the simple act of getting onto the stage is an exercise in perseverance for our hapless hero, as he finds he must contort himself through a tiny slit in the curtain. Everything that can go awry does go awry in this charming, quirky one-man contemporary circus.

The Pianist is at its best when utilising its points of originality. As far as inanimate objects go, the grand piano is an astonishingly good antagonist to our clumsy hero, and the feats that take place on or around it are by far the most entertaining.

Monkton finds a surprising amount to draw on in this complicated relationship, from a wayward leg, to a body-warping cover that just won’t come off, and to its final fiery act of defiance. These moments are when Morton’s performance is also at its greatest, as his mounting exasperation brings forth the subtle pathos often found in the best kind of clowning.

Beyond the piano there is a surprisingly stunning routine on the chandelier, and a charming subplot devoted to two hands who find love on a piano stool. However, occasionally Morton moves too far from his narrative. A recurring cowboy reference seems strangely out of place, and there are one or two short dance routines that don’t seem in keeping with the personality of our proud but frustrated pianist.

This is the kind of show that appeals to a large and varied audience, and for that reason there were elements that felt flat to me, but drew uproarious laughs from others. Those that seemed to find this show most appealing were its youngest spectators, and so if it is a clever and imaginative acrobatic show for the family that you are seeking, then The Pianist is sure to delight.

★★★½

For show times and to book tickets, see the Fringe guide.

Lauren Butterworth

Lauren Butterworth

Lauren Butterworth is an emerging writer with fiction and essays in Wet Ink, Libertine, Indaily and forthcoming in Verity La. She podcasts at Deviant Women, and is co-director of The Hearth.

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