Friday, 15 January 2010

The Scotsman - Review

There is something emotionally affecting about seeing a fully grown man perform on stage with his real-life mother and father. Outside the circus or village hall, this is not something you often get to witness – and even in these instances it's rarely made into a narrative focal point in the way it is here.

The show tells the story of how Michael Pinchbeck's parents, Tony and Vivienne, met in 1970 at the final night party of an amateur dramatics production of The Sound of Music.

All three family members star in the piece in which past and present, fact and fiction are blurred together in a playfully self-referential way. It could be either horribly painful or truly brilliant. Delightfully, it's the latter.

Sixteen scenes take their themes from individual songs from the musical, including Climb Every Mountain, Maria and So Long, Farewell.

Within these numbers Michael (Total Theatre Award winner in 1999) and Tony incorporate dance and physical theatre, play with narrative structure, and tell us how the performance we're now watching came to exist.

There's a wonderfully facetious moment when Michael steps out of the action and asks us whether we think the narrative is too slow, too fast, too like radio or could do with more dancing.

Father and son portray all the characters, including the entire cast of The Sound of Music and each other, with a compelling matter-of-fact honesty. It's a very unsentimental, yet touching piece in which the importance of family is conveyed without ever being said. Vivienne is in the middle of the stage throughout – the central figure around which the action revolves – silently managing the sound system.

The show is essentially a celebration of the kind of seemingly insignificant moments that lead to monumental changes in one's life, as well as a tribute to the often unrecognised enjoyment that amateur theatre brings to those involved in it.

As Michael points out, if it hadn't been for a two-week run of a small-scale production in Lincoln, his parents would never have met, he would never have been born and we wouldn't be sitting here watching this show now – and there's something quite lovely about all of that.

The Scotsman

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