The Pianist: A Concert Catastrophe hits all the right notes with irresistible physical comedy

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      Direction and planning by Thomas Monckton and Sanna Silvennoinen. A Thomas Monckton and Circo Aereo production presented by the Cultch. At the York Theatre on Wednesday, October 26. Continues until November 5

      The kids in the audience were howling with glee right from the get-go on the night I saw The Pianist, and so were most of the adults. The sense of silliness underpinning this show’s virtuosic physical comedy is irresistible.

      Creator-performer Thomas Monckton is the tuxedoed title character, the evening’s entertainment at a fancy soirée—but first he has to get onto the stage. Once his hand, then foot, then leg, then whole body find their way through a small hole in the stretchy curtain, the pianist runs into trouble with everything from his sheet music to his gag-inducing glass of wine—and that’s before he even sits down at his instrument.

      Monckton’s long limbs appear to be made of rubber as he wrestles with the piano stool, his music, and the various parts of the piano itself, repeatedly affecting a look of nonchalance following the latest disaster. His physical antics range in scale from the grandly acrobatic (the chandelier becomes a trapeze) to the more commonplace (head bonks, slips and falls) to the very tiny (racing his fingers around the edge of a stool seat). Monckton is a fearless contortionist who finds endless surprises in the few objects on-stage, and his occasional forays into the house (there’s some nonthreatening audience participation) ratchet up the hilarity.

      I don’t want to give away any more of the surprises in this hourlong show; you should see it for yourself. And bring the whole family, because The Pianist will make everyone laugh.