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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Pianoforte, My Life

Center for Arts Beyond Boundaries (Korea)

Genre: Musical Theatre

Venue: Spotlites at the Merchants’ Hall


Low Down

"Tells the story of a pianist at the end of her career. She reminisces with regret, the last time her fingers danced on the keyboard. The history, the past and the gifts she had, cross and interface allowing us to witness the hard conditions of the artist who pursues the perfect concert. The show, consisting of a monologue and live piano music, has performed around the world in three different languages"


A piano, a pianist, a familiar tune and Pianoforte, My Life begins. And that is what this production is – the story of a life, reflected in music. Two performers – one addressing us in a story-monlogue, the other playing piano in parallel to the elements of the unravelling story.
A consideration of the role, place and power of music, this piece is presented directly, as innermost thoughts, experiences and feelings are shared with us
We are each and every one of us, a white canvas and our lives are what we place upon it. So this is the story of a life told in monologue and piano. Our autobiographer takes on a journey through her years as a pianist – vignettes is music and memory.
This is a gentle piece of music and theatre from stage-terrified tender little hands to aged aching feet.
There is also a deeper narrative running through this life story – drawing a parallel between music and the state of our teller’s soul. Our music and our readiness and ability to "play" rests on the quality and health of our biographical development. Sometimes we are not ready nor even able until we have confronted, worked through and resolved. And some things may always inhibit us in our journey, planted like seeds from the first moments of our life. From nursery rhyme to virtuoso concerto, our life is a journey of elaboration and development, overcoming, suffering and final realisation.
There’s tenderness here and an intensity in the monologue that create a lyrical mood one moment, intense emotional in another moment, throughout the show. Sadness, guilt and regret blended with achievement and a handful of smiles.
This is also a troubled journey of a relationship between pianist and composers, a one way attempt at a dialogue, an attempt to listen to one who has departed yet continues to speak through the notes printed in his musical scores. Melodies become messages, pieces become part of a complex conversation – a life’s journey to make any sense of it.
The staging feels a bit static and the structure of monologue and music, mostly in linear fashion is a little muted. The monologue sometimes lacks clarity, largely due to the accent of the performer though, mostly, there’s a maturity and intense emotional sincerity to her voice that carries the performance over to we, the audience.
An anatomy of music reflected in the inner and outer life of a pianist. I wish the playing – technically excellent as it was – had reflected the dramatic content of the spoken life story more. The pianist represents a younger version of our story teller, and yet much of the mood of the playing seemed to shy away from embracing that story. So, we were left with the music itself feeling a bit detached from it. Sometimes though it really did show the needed emotion and the drama lifted.
Overall, there’s an intriguing atmosphere to this production. Our elderly woman, sharing her life’s journey in self-discovery through music, seems to suffer this journey – a journey that never ends, a journey from communication to communion. As with many artists and artistes.shes comes across as being somewhere between passion and obsession. I was touched deeply by her honesty and sincerity, and the final ending is a lovely moment in theatre.
There’s a story worth experiencing here, and plenty of fine classical music, much of which you’ll recognise, in there as well. Recommended for its uniqueness as a piece of theatre and music.


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