'There's a Monster in my Piano' – Garlic Theatre
A 45 minute frolic where jazz and comedy meet pure fun, ‘There’s a Monster in my Piano’ is suitable for ages 4+ but, despite its madcap subject matter, it isn’t so daft that the rest of the family will be clock-watching. The show opens with a pair of disembodied white-gloved hands gently brushing clean the surface of a tiny piano. As is soon explained, we are in fact in the presence of one of the rarest, most exquisite and expensive pianos in the world.
Apart from the piano perched on its pedestal, the set is fairly bare throughout. A placard states we are about to be treated to a concert by “the one and only Giselle Germoline” – a French pianist and extreme diva, complete with pink feather boa and sparkly handbag. She treats her human assistant as a dogsbody destined to fulfill her every whim – including ridding her beloved piano of a monster.
Through her manipulation of, and interaction with, puppets such as Madame Germoline, Iklooshar Malara delivers a wacky one-woman show that flaunts her broad talents, including an impressive vocal repertoire. She ranges from squeaky little French glove puppets who help with piano upkeep, to the broad, deep accent of the piano ‘doctor’ who comes to investigate just what exactly is lurking inside the piano.
The puppets are expressive and some unusual in appearance, with a kind of stitched leather baseball look about them that adds to the show’s charm. Even simple puppets, such as a small green worm that crawls over the piano’s surface, are directed with style and realism.
When the piano doctor puppet pulls a cleaning rod through one ear and out of the other, the audience’s delight is clear. Credit should be given to Mark Pitman who, along with Iklooshar Malara, is Co-Artistic Director of Garlic Theatre and who created and directed the puppets for this show. The piano monster is an especially striking puppet and, without spoiling the surprise, it is bigger and more brightly coloured than you would probably expect!
The soundtrack is another plus point, as jazzy drums and tinkling piano keep music the show’s central theme. A brief music lesson, where crotchets and quavers are explained through 2D animation, is a sweet way of introducing music theory to young kids.
There are some elements that must go over the heads of the young audience, including references to the French language. However it seems of little consequence as the under-fives are enthralled throughout. Indeed, proof of the show’s success comes soon after its conclusion when the performer invites the children to meet her puppets. A wave of movement sees every kid in the room rush to the front – testament to Garlic Theatre’s knack for mesmerising its audience.
'There’s a Monster in my Piano'
Northwood Community Arts
St John’s United Reformed Church