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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Anatomy of the Piano

Will Pickvance

Genre: Solo Show

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

 Where exactly is the heart of the piano? Part piano recital, part fantasy lecture, pianist and entertainer Will Pickvance presents the physical, emotional and spiritual anatomy of the piano, with stories about, songs around, the playing on and the dissection of, a piano. The relationship between piano and pianist: both equally temperamental, both largely redundant without the other. Chance to see pianistic expression alongside PowerPoint, live animation accompaniment alongside piano post-mortem, all played out within the charming Victorian Anatomy Lecture Theatre.


Radiant and buoyant, Will Pickvance enters the room to applause. He is cool and calm, his presence takes complete control. Without a word his fingers lightly tap on the keys, making a sweet summery sound, filling the air with light and playful notes.

Without pause from piano to audience, he begins at the beginning; his wish list for a Christmas present when he was a young boy. Lucky for us he doesn’t get what he wishes for (a rocket), instead he receives a great big piano; a handsome, mahogany upright piano.  

Will Pickvance takes us on an exploration of the anatomy of the piano, starting with the largest organism of the anatomy, the skin (the case) which is  protecting the internal organs from “toddler invasion, curiosity blunders and drunken burns”. He moves on to talk about the genetic disparity of the upright and its ancestor– the Grand piano; the curvature of the spine and the difference in colour, informing us that this was the “aesthetic age of the piano skin”..So his piano becomes personified , it has teeth (keys) which are nicotine stained,  it has smiles, smirks and grimaces. These are just a few examples of the observations made by Will towards his piano, he continues to pick apart and dissect his instrument accompanied by childlike and quirky illustrations. It’s as if the illustrations are being projected straight from mind of Will when he was a child.

Will’s light and naturalistic approach is charming and engaging, instantly we warm to him.  The show is  scientific and factual , yet his naive subtleties make a mischievous and light performance. He is slick and easy with his words, completely seamless but without the stuffy  style of an actor that has been trained .

Will Pickvance’s Anatomy of the Piano is a chance to see the world through the eyes of a master of music  with a beautiful twist.