Pianomime, Summerhall, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Tim Vincent-Smith (animation), Will Pickvance (writer)
Will Pickvance
Running time

Will Pickvance has become a well established pianist and comic entertainer around Edinburgh, from his Summerhall Fringe show 2013, “Anatomy of the Piano”, to lunchtime concerts at St. Giles Cathedral.

He describes himself as a Piano Player, enjoying the freedom of improvisation around diverse musical styles from Bach to Fats Waller.

The theme of this Festive show is about the art of true pantomime. Pickvance has witnessed in vain its slow decline in standard and tradition: “ Z-listed celebrities with smutty innuendos and trashy pop covers have left pantomime in tatters.”

This may be true in England, where TV soap opera actors and long forgotten pop singers are unsuitably cast as Dames and Principal boys. In Scotland, the authentic Panto tradition continues as strong as ever.

Staged in the ideal space of the Anatomy Lecture room at Summerhall, Pickvance sits at his upright piano, playing a prelude of lively tunes. The front of the piano has been removed so that we can watch the keys hammering away.

The theatrical element is a quirky, fun Animation film (cleverly devised by Tim Vincent-Smith) depicting a typical, romantic Fairy Tale. The pantomime characters are created from recycled wooden hammers, pieces of felt, keys, springs, nuts and screws taken from a friend’s piano saved from a house fire.

With silent movie-style music, songs and jokes, Will is a one man band, while also narrating the roughly patched together script. (Who wrote this stuff?! he asks half way through).

We hiss and boo the baddy at suitable moments and invited to take part in the storytelling and sing a long. The 55 minute show is all rather haphazard and under-rehearsed when animation and script reading are out of sync.

But there's no doubt that Mr Pickvance the Piano Man, has a rare talent when he can hold the attention of an adult audience relating a fairytale, while we pretend to wear “magical” 3D glasses and sing silly songs.

“Very, very bizarre!” said a man in the front row at the end. Yes, it is.! A zany, surreal, Pythonesque musical performance with unique wit and charm.

Show times

16 - 22 December, 2013 at 20:00