Riotously funny and utterly delightful
By Rachel Holkner
The Pianist is a character of grace, charm and poise, but only in his own mind. In this Circo Aereo production, Thomas Monckton takes on this role in a battle against a downright vindictive grand piano. The result is an hilarious show as Monckton engages in more and more bizarre problem-solving in order to get his music concert started.
This dialogue-free performance is laughs from start to end, from embarrassed titters to outright side-splitting convulsions as the Pianist mimes, dances and contorts his way around the stage. It is constructed as beautifully as any concerto, with slow and subtle beginnings, clever and timely phrase repetitions, and building gradually to an uproarious crescendo.
The situations are absurd as the pianist character, while not exactly hapless, is doomed to suffer through his own misjudgements as the simple staging and very few props are determined to bring him down. And all the while he is dearly wishing for his work to be taken seriously.
Monckton is a virtuoso performer, keeping the audience fully engaged for an hour through his expressive movements, whether spectacular full-body acrobatics or minute facial tics. He is a skilled mime artist, aware of his own nonsense, but revelling in the audience’s enjoyment.
The entire production reminded me of no less than a classic Looney Tunes cartoon brought to life with the overconfidence of Daffy Duck together with the charm of Bugs Bunny and the bad luck of Wile E. Coyote. I could not read the make of piano from where I was sitting but would not be surprised had it said ‘ACME’.
The audience during this performance was one of the most varied I have seen with all ages well represented and equally enchanted with The Pianist‘s antics; this is truly a show that anyone will enjoy. I can’t recommend it highly enough as a refreshing escape.
Showing at Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne
12 – 16 January at 7:30pm
Saturday 16 Jan at 1:00pm
Sunday 17 Jan at 3:00pm
Tickets $39 with family prices available.