To be fair, Play Piano Play warns you that it is not, in fact, a play before the show even begins. But its inclusion in this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival remains confusing.
Pitched as “a blend of comedy and incendiary pianism,” this one-man act follows Czech pianist Jan Janovsky, as he strings together host of musical numbers with a loosely woven narrative of his “Czech past, Canadian present, and ambiguous future.”
Play Piano Play could have been one of this year’s best AlleyPlays, and Janovsky would have likely found a more receptive audience had he chosen a less formal venue for his material. He is an able musician, and his skill with the piano is easy to appreciate.
Some (like myself) may feel an imbalance between Janovsky’s impressive musicianship and his fumbling attempts at humour, and a dissonance between these that constantly jars you out of the mood he is trying to set. Peppering his monologues with hints of racism and misogyny only serves to amplify the audience’s palpable sense of discomfort.
Fringe is all about experimentation and risk-taking, and it’s to be expected that many shows at Fringe it won’t be for everyone. Play Piano Play might be one of them. This is one to see if you have a taste for old school pianism. Or check it out or for its unintended character study of a talented artist still trying to find his niche.
Play Piano Play is playing until July 12, 2014 at the Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue, inside the JCC)
July 05 at 03:30 PM
July 06 at 08:45 PM
July 08 at 03:00 PM
July 09 at 05:45 PM
July 10 at 07:30 PM
July 12 at 02:15 PM
Tickets for all mainstage productions are $10 at the door, cash only. Advance tickets are $12, and can be purchased online, by phone (416-966-1062), or from the festival box office at the Fringe Club. (Rear of Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. West). Money-saving value packs are also available if you are going to at least five shows; see website for details
LATECOMERS ARE NEVER ADMITTED TO FRINGE SHOWS. To avoid disappointment, be sure to arrive a few minutes before curtain.
Photo provided by the company