It would be no exaggeration to declare Thomas Monckton nothing short of a genius. For a single performer in what is essentially a one man show he’s impressively versatile, enigmatic and thoroughly entertaining. Nothing goes according to plan for this poor pianist and yet in a hapless tale of hope and perseverance despite all the odds he comes out on top, producing not merely a piece on his beloved piano, but an hour of immensely enjoyable entertainment.
Everything that could go wrong does go wrong and it’s wonderful.
The collaboration of Monckton and Circo Aereo results in skilfully executed hilarity. It’s the story of the pianist who almost never gets to perform, at least in the traditional sense. The piano is played but in all the wrong (or right?) ways: it’s climbed on, danced on, flowers spring from its innards, everything and anything you could conceive manifests itself in, around, and above it.
Everything that could go wrong does go wrong and it’s wonderful. Even entering the stage is given a cunning twist as the curtain reveals nothing but a foot sized hole to let Monckton enter, producing some sneaky body contortion as Monckton wiggles onto the stage. The piano cunningly centres this hour of clowning, enabling a gripping narrative to unfold, with Monckton able to extend and elaborate on the many differing dilemmas he encounters in the run up to its final climactic playing. The clowning and elaborate acrobatics remain enfolded within the piano itself despite their impressive scope. The show features everything big and small, from swinging on a chandelier, to eerily animated hands that tell the tale of an entire lifetime using only the tips of fingers on a stool. In this piece Monckton manages to transform a piano into more than simply an instrument; it’s a character all on its own.
This show hits all the right notes. Imaginative, inventive, and immaculately performed, this is clowning at its best.