This is a charming show that can’t help but leave you wanting more. In the evocative setting of Summerhall’s Old Anatomy Lecture Theatre, we spend an hour in the company of Will Pickvance and his trusted companion- an upright piano. He and his instrument friend have an effortless relationship honed over years of playing music all over the world. In his previous show, Anatomy of a Piano, Pickvance took on a more educational role as he shone light on the inner workings of a piano. For this show, he has taken a more laid back approach, preferring a more conversational tone. This is a choice that pays dividends since we are in the presence of a skillful storyteller who can say a lot with a little. An easy host with a twinkle-eyed wit, the lingering niggle with this show is that Pickvance’s spoken interludes are sparsely rationed. However, to quibble over this feels churlish considering that under his spell the piano takes on the spirit of an able raconteur. As he flits from piece to piece – weaving between melodies- the piano is expressive and enveloping.
Between them Pickvance and his piano tell of a life consumed by music to the exclusion of almost all else. We learn of someone with a voracious need to increase his musical repertoire and how this met its match at his residency in the cocktail lounge at the exclusive Skibo castle. After all these years, his musical repertoire is fit to bursting allowing him to skip with ease from the music of the great masters through to that of the Beatles. He playfully deconstructs familiar tunes that we’ve all heard many times before, providing thoughtful and amusing insight.
While this could have benefitted from even more of his wry observations, the hour that we spend in this cosy old room flies by thanks to the energetic and ensconcing skill on show whenever Pickvance is tinkling away at the ivories. By the time it is over, the realisation is that an hour is not nearly enough- I would have happily stayed all night to listen to this music interspersed with humorous and winning musings.
Image: courtesy of production