Theatre review: Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners)
Theatre review: Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners)

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners), reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters ★★★ In THIS thoroughly charming and craftily educational hour, pianist Will Pickvance takes children and newcomers to the piano on a fantastical guided tour of its history. Sitting at the keyboard, he describes his childhood disappointment one Christmas …

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Edinburgh Festival

Edinburgh Festival Fringe theatre review: Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners), reviewed by The Scotsman’s Ben Walters

★★★

In THIS thoroughly charming and craftily educational hour, pianist Will Pickvance takes children and newcomers to the piano on a fantastical guided tour of its history.

Sitting at the keyboard, he describes his childhood disappointment one Christmas when he didn’t receive the spaceship he hoped for but instead a piano.

This too, he learned, could be a vehicle of exploration – the whole show is underpinned by the notion of “musical adventures” and shows how the instrument’s evolution resulted from the creative demands of pioneering composers including Bach and Beethoven.

Pickvance stretches the evolutionary metaphor to pleasingly absurd lengths, positing, with the aid of hand-drawn tongue-in-cheek illustrations, little-known forebears such as the cave piano and the aquatic piano.

He buoys the whole thing along with his easy manner and hugely impressive musical abilities – also in evidence at his grown-up show, Alchemy of the Piano – and there’s something inspirational and empowering about the way he places experimentation and boundary-pushing at the heart of his story.

As he notes when describing the flights of fancy unleashed by Fats Waller at the keys, “through improvisation, he could go on a new adventure every single time”.

Summerhall (Venue 26), until 30 August, 10am / listings

Published in The Scotsman on 15 August 2015

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