First Piano on The Moon @ Pleasance at EICC

Self-described 'half-man half-piano' Will Pickvance is almost an extension of his instrument in this charming and stylistic production

Review by Dominic Corr | 19 Aug 2021
  • First Piano on the Moon @ Pleasance @ EICC

Where is Salzburg? It certainly isn’t on the moon, but that isn’t going to perturb young Will Pickvance. Chosen to represent his school as one of its finest piano players in the city of Mozart, Will struggles to secure the confidence to play anything as whimsical or technical as the other contestants. 

Anxious, dreamy and troubled, Pickvance happens upon the one thing no one could resist – a grand piano, with a delicate sign placed atop its polished hood that says, “Do not Play This Piano”. Well, that's just tempting fate. 

This stylistic production, written and performed by Pickvance (self-described as 'half-man, half-piano') is a charming hybrid of improvisational storytelling and demonstrative musicianship. Pickvance not only takes the audience into the past but also presents and explores Mozart's legacies, discovering the influences of his work in the uncanniest of places. 

Upside down, back-to-front, in the dark, inside out – there’s no place this man can't play. As a musician Pickvance tackles more inaccessible pieces with ease, and as a performer he seems as if he is almost an extension of the instrument. His tone and cadence mimic the piano, and his mannerisms shifts with genre changes into jazz or classical.

But there’s some magic missing. A lack of chaos where one would expect it keeps the show from quite reaching the moon, instead merely orbiting and returning to Earth. The presence of the projection screen offers promise, but it's utilised only a few times to enhance the illustrative words Pickvance projects.

An understated production, First Piano on the Moon capitalises on where the focus ought to be – the music. Relishing a challenge, the show encourages a generation of new Mozart fans and re-ignites the imaginations of those who haven’t tickled the ivories for years.

First Piano on The Moon, Pleasance at EICC, run ended