There are quite a few blog posts online dedicated to the scene in Love Actually, where Mark is declaring his love to Juliet through prompt cards. Most of them point out that the whole scenario is actually rather creepy as opposed to romantic, but perhaps it’s just the way you look at life that influences this. Making its debut at Underbelly George Square, Calum Finlay’s Piano_Play follows a similar theme, asking if the actions of someone in love are always seen in the romantic way they are intended.
It’s based loosely on a true story, following the somewhat cringey love life of Tom, but to all extents and purposes this is a two hander, because just as crucial to the production is Tom’s piano which is played throughout the production.
Directed by Matt Hassall, Piano_Play sees Tom inviting us in to his Edinburgh Fringe production, the problem is the person he wants to be in the audience isn’t here. It’s his ex, the man he’s been in love with since high school, and although they’ve shared a couple of passionate experiences together it’s gone no further.
Tom has taken matters to extremes, and throughout the piece he tells us quite candidly about all of the ways he’s tried to win over the love of his life. It is incredibly funny, why? Because the audience are groaning at the sheer cringe worthiness of the whole situation. Tom is oblivious of course, which is what makes it so funny.
For the first few minutes I thought that the music must have been coming from a backing track, and Ed Zanders as Tom was simply miming the piano playing. But as the show went on, I realised that Zanders was actually playing the piano live, and how beautifully perfect it sounded too.
Piano_Play works so incredibly well in the most part to Ed Zanders, who gives an incredibly endearing performance, it’s impossible to really be angry at the things he’s done because he’s just so damn sweet. The music too tells much of the story, yes there’s some Britney Spears in there but the classical music is just divine, you can almost feel the whole room melt as Zanders plays Bach’s Prelude in C Major.
At times this strangely erotic play absolutely grips its audience, who are beguiled by Tom’s deluded antics and at the same time enchanted by his story told through music. Piano_Play is something truly different and unique, and however you felt about that scene in Love Actually, you’ll find yourself under a romantic spell at the hands of Ed Zander’s Tom.