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Review: PianoMime

Amy Taylor reviews 'a real good feel-good cacophony of piano, panto, humour and song'.

Piano meets Panto in Will Pickvance’s surreal yet thought-provoking new work, PianoMime, in a triumphant return to Summerhall following his success with Anatomy of the Piano at the Fringe earlier this year. Part live cabaret, part panto within a panto and featuring animation by Tim Vincent- Smith, this latest piece follows the trials and tribulations of a group of actors and their attempts to change the world of panto forever.

The magical thing about PianoMime is its self-awareness. It doesn’t only parody panto, but eviscerates it completely in less than one hour. It points to the format’s flaws, such as predictability, the rise of Z-list celebrity guest stars and the never-ending tyranny of typecasting. Yet Pickvance’s merry deconstruction of this much-loved theatrical phenomena isn’t malicious; he celebrates its shortcomings and problems. However, his satirical festival frolic is more a ‘cri de coeur’ for today’s struggling artists rather than contemporary audiences.

And he has a point: underneath the joyful visuals of Woodstock, the horse and the dastardly dealings of panto villain, Vogel, is a business that can be as repetitive and stagnant as lukewarm Brussels sprouts on Boxing Day. However, while Pickvance does point at and ridicule the negative aspects of the entertainment industry and speaks of hope of a musical revolution, PianoMime doesn’t offer a solution to this. Perhaps, then, Pickvance’s intention is for this piece to be more of a catalyst to set tongues wagging about the state of modern British panto and what can be done to improve it?

Regardless of his reasons, PianoMime is undoubtedly a real good feel-good cacophony of piano, panto, humour and song that warms the heart and exercises the vocal chords, thanks to nice bit of audience interaction. A fine follow-up to Anatomy of the Piano, PianoMime is a welcome new piece of performance that is set to evolve and entertain audiences over time.

Run at Summerhall ended.

Tags: theatre music

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