october 2016 | Volume 148
Production photo credit: Juho Rahijärvi
Thomas Monckton is a human rubber ba'nd whose attempts to play the piano are a riot. A New Zealander who lives in Helsinki and works with Finland’s Circo Aereo, Monckton looks a little like Mick Jagger with Albert Einstein hair. The Pianist: A Concert Catastrophe, his 50-minute family-friendly acrobatic clown show, is a non-verbal non-stop gigglefest that showcases his amazing physical dexterity.
You wouldn’t think he’d have much to work with. There’s nothing on stage but a cloth-covered grand piano, a stool and a crystal chandelier. Monckton comes through the curtain—literally—dressed in formalwear and carrying his sheet music. He uses every element I’ve just mentioned, and is aided immensely by Tuomas Norvio’s sound design and Juho Rahijarvi’s lighting. His entrance alone takes maybe ten very funny minutes.
Besides his crazy physicality, Monckton uses his elastic face to great effect, alternating comic winks, withering looks and blowing kisses to the audience and his spotlight operator. His involvement with the audience, including a frantic paper fight, is half the fun.
Unlike a lot of clown shows—not my favourite performance genre—you never know what’s going to come next in Monckton’s routine. And the fact that he actually can play the piano turns out to be a delightful bonus.
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