Adelaide Fringe is now upon us, and with it comes a wonderful range of treats for all the senses and every age group.
The Pianist is a one-man show, presented by Finland’s Circo Aereo and performed by hilarious New Zealander, Thomas Monckton; and it’s one for everyone.
A concert pianist with an overinflated ego attempts to perform the symphony of his life, but instead, creates a beautifully absurd cacophony of catastrophe.
Speaking to us from Perth, Thomas says the show is suitable for all ages, because he believes we all remain kids at heart.
“There’s so much that kids love about this show. There’s so much slapstick comedy and complete silliness, so they love it. Even if they don’t get the entire concept, I’m constantly falling over and hurting myself and that’s funny,” he says.
“I love the universality of slapstick; it’s for all ages. I have a theory that we never grow out of peekaboo, we just get used to it. So as a performer, we just keep reinventing peekaboo.”
Thomas has had a wonderfully interesting career to date, and is a thoroughly fascinating and quirky person.
We asked him about his theatrical background and he was only too pleased to talk about his beginnings as the end of a zebra and his foliage residency in Paris.
“I went to a circus school in New Zealand for two years and then I toured with a theatre company called the Ugly Shakespeare Company. After that, I did some gigs as a solo circus artist but it was quite difficult. I was the back end of a zebra once and it was at that point when I thought I should do some more training, so I started to look at physical theatre schools,” he says.
“That’s when I came across Lecoq in Paris. I went there for two years. The life experience there was the best thing. I learned so much about live performance, but also, I didn’t speak any French. So I got there and I slept in a bush for a while, but it was a very flash bush. It was on a very nice street. There was no scrimping on the quality of the bush. Then I lived in a tent in the woods on the outskirts of Paris. I felt like I was advancing the professional element of my career; it was better than being the rear end of a zebra.”
Following his time in Paris, he travelled to Finland, where he became involved with Circo Aereo, who are presenting The Pianist.
“I met a few friends at the school in Paris, and we all went to work in a circus in Finland. Over there, the director of the circus saw a previous work I did and invited me to do a show for Circo Aereo. I had seen their work in Paris and really loved it, so I was super excited and chuffed to be offered work with them,” he says.
“The Pianist was an idea I suggested to Sanna [Silvennoinen, the director] in conversation, before knowing we’d work together, and she’d thought about it and redeveloped the idea and came back to me with the job offer and show idea.”
The show has gone all around the world and will continue to tour for a few years to come, Thomas says.
“The show is going ridiculously well, so it’s continuing. We’re going to Hong Kong directly after here, and then we’re going to The States. I’m also doing another solo show that I’ll start touring, and I’m also writing and directing a few other shows, but this one will continue to tour for a few more years,” he says.
Although a seasoned performer in festivals around the world, this is Thomas’ Adelaide Fringe debut and he’s very excited about playing a long season of The Pianist here.
“I’ve never been to Adelaide Fringe! Getting to do the show so many times in a row is really great, because you get to develop it. I’m really excited about that. Also, from my small experience, Australian audiences are great. I’m really looking forward to performing for a really responsive audience. Also, I’m performing in the same venue as Barbu and I really love Barbu! We performed in the same festival in Montreal in Canada. It’s so great,” he says.
The Pianist is playing from February 13 until March 5 at The Panama Club in Royal Croquet Club. Book tickets here.
By Libby Parker
Libby Parker is a journalist, teacher and life enthusiast.
You can follow her on Twitter at @upsidenews_lib