Following the success of Anatomy of the Piano last year, Will Pickvance is back with an enthralling adaptation of his work for younger theatre-goers. Sitting somewhere between a storytelling and a recital, Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners) is a delightful romp through piano music and the perfect antidote to scale and arpeggio-induced boredom.
It breathtakingly captures the curious joy found only in an explorative tinkle on a piano, with warmth and humour.
A younger Will writes to Father Christmas for a spaceship and instead receives a piano. Undaunted, he nevertheless decides to experiment and discover the kinds of adventures on which his piano might take him instead. Together we embark upon a musical journey through space and time, learning about the evolution of the instrument and meeting Bach, Beethoven and jazz pianist Fats Waller along the way.
Refreshingly soft-spoken and eccentric, Pickvance’s delivery is perfectly suited to engaging kids and their accompanying grown-ups. He creates a sense of genuine wonder and so has no problems calling upon audience members to contribute to the show: excited cries of “forte!” and “piano!” echoed across the theatre.
Above Will and his piano, gorgeous hand-drawn projections beautifully illustrate the key points and landscapes described in the music and dialogue. Too often shows aimed at children resort to garish and excessive visuals in order to accommodate shorter attention spans. But these projections are deliberately understated: they complement rather than attempt to compensate the piano music which takes centre stage. With Will’s help, the piano speaks, and this alone is more than enough to captivate. Younger audience members should probably be mature enough to listen to short interludes of music, but there is certainly no requirement to sit still - indeed, swaying to the music is encouraged.
Will Pickvance’s Anatomy of the Piano (for Beginners) is, quite simply, for everyone who has ever been dragged to a piano lesson, whether long ago or more recently. The show breathtakingly captures the curious joy found only in an explorative tinkle on a piano, with warmth and humour.