Scherzo: For Piano and Stick is a piece for musing, opening your mind and just being carried away.
This production by Riotous Company is from a company with strong theatrical stock, Kathryn Hunter, who recently bagged rave reviews at HOME, is their patron and director Tage Larsen has worked on numerous Odin Teatret productions. Odin themselves are an institution who make work thats spoken with hushed breath around drama schools and cutting-edge theatre companies world-wide.
So you know you’re in for something a little different.
On one half of the stage is a large hanging mobile made up of sticks of differing lengths and on the other a modified piano.
Performer Mia Theil Have and Composer Nikola Kodjabashia bow and take their places.
The production takes a little while to warm up and figure out what’s going on, Peter Oswald poetic words “You break me like a stick and make me again” offer many meanings and interpretations: is Have exploring a break up? Grief? Or is it in response to the relationship her and Kodjabashia share on the stage right now? A playful status battle between the pair ensues, with the piano crashing over Have words and her fighting to get Kodjabashia’s attention, these moments draw you into the heart of the piece. Yes, this is the kind of work that your Cats-loving Nan wouldn’t have a clue what’s going on, however the direction on the piece ensures it’s welcoming and never takes itself seriously, meaning it quickly gains your empathy and your eyes open to the abstract beauty of the piece.
Have creates brilliant images using the sticks: a bed, a pair of wings, a skiing holiday - all the while your imagination works fast to fill the stage’s empty space with your interpretation of the story. The piece really hits it stride in the last third, after the words have looped several times during the piece, each repetition pushes down to a deeper level of meaning. Have and Kodjabashia have real chemistry, a playful, human one, more impressive with the fact Kodjabashia isn’t primarily an actor. The piece becomes more moving, with Kodjabashia’s beautiful, cinematic score and the way he plays you know you’re in the presence of a true artist, while Have’s movement becomes stripped down and doubles in it’s powerful clarity.
Credit must be given to the sound design, amplifying every scrape of the stick and breath, enhancing the intimacy of the piece.
Scherzo for piano and stick is a great example of the non-narrative led European work HOME’s Meierjohann wants you to discover: if you want refreshing, inspiring theatre give this a try.
Reviewer: Ryan Gilmartin
Reviewed: 13th October 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★