fri 17/08/2018

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, Brighton Festival review - dubious dancing but perfect puppetry | reviews, news & interviews

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, Brighton Festival review - dubious dancing but perfect puppetry

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach, Brighton Festival review - dubious dancing but perfect puppetry

A simple introduction to classical piano music represented through puppetry and dance

Slot Machine Theatre's visual feast of music and performance

This Brighton Festival opener is a perfect fit for day one, coming shortly after the Children's Parade and coasting on the gorgeous, beachy day outside the Brighthelm Centre. I have come from said beach, armed with my own Boy. He's 3. His opinion here is probably more vaild than mine, although he's a little short on the vocabulary.

Children are invited to sit at the front of the stage on cushions and blankets, it's a warm and welcoming atmosphere to an inclusive show. Attention is caught by the cast members (Xavier Pathy-Barker, James Aiden Kay, Nick Tigg, Carol Walton and Edward Liddall) walking in circles around the stage, each taking a turn at sitting but not playing, until Liddall begins.

We are introduced to the boy, an exquisite puppet with shining eyes and a colourful horned hat

The confusion of what these grey-clad adults are up to is over – my Boy is enthralled. The piano playing is excellent, heartfelt and lyrical. It shines, even though the four dancers take a while to get into the actual story of the performance. Their introductory dance piece is somewhat baffling, the basic contemporary class choreography having seemingly nothing to do with a beach, or a boy – and is very sombre. 

Things pick up as Liddell's tempo does – coursing through Bach, Debussy, Ravel, Prokofiev, Bartok and Philip Glass. We are introduced to the boy, an exquisite puppet with shining eyes and a colourful, horned hat styled for Brighton's lanes. His story is strange and lonely. The beach, made playful by games with deck chairs that later become seagulls, seems to draw him in until he's under the waves, in a sub-aqua adventure where he meets shimmering scaled fish and a big green sea monster. 

The puppet boy hops, runs, dives and swims in an endearing manner, moved by the dancers who silently create scenes around him, in front of a modern ship sculpture upon which colours and patterns are projected. The monster, for some inexplicable, dramatic reason, dies on the bed of the sea. My boy is rather traumatised (which means he is invested, so I don't mind too much). Also, it's OK as the soul of the sea monster seems to be travelling onwards, and it's a simple enough design concept to console my Boy and he's soon back to jigging away to the up-tempo pianissimo.

The Boy, The Piano and The Beach is a short, simple show, designed above all else to show how to visually portray classical piano music, through dance and design. Basic it might be, it was the perfect level of interest for my three-year-old beach babe, and the friends he made at the festival too.

It was the perfect level of interest for my three-year-old beach babe, and the friends he made at the festival too

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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