Impression of Taiwan
ASIAN drumming spectaculars can range from the mildly thunderous to an ear endurance test.
But half-way through Impression of Taiwan the impression was forming that the techniques involved in playing these drums, some of which are substantial enough to require to be wheeled on stage, are more nimble, more flexible than, say, Japanese taiko drumming. Then sticks started splitting - and we're not talking lollipop sticks. These are serious bits of wood.
Nonetheless, there is a subtlety of touch and variety of tones and textures as well as a frankly exciting vigour allied to supreme discipline at work in a performance that offers superbly choreographed theatre, an eye-catching, semi-martial arrival complete with warrior masks, and folksong and fine, beautifully controlled flute interludes.
It's an entertainment, with visual storytelling and dance, as much as a display of muscularly armed percussing. If you hadn't planned on seeing any drum shows, Impression of Taiwan could make you glad you changed your mind.
Run ends August 24.
Anatomy of the Piano
HAVE you ever considered that pianos might have evolved, like humans, from an aquatic form? With Bosendorfer fins?
Okay, I made the second bit up but Will Pickvance has an hour of such suppositions in a lecture-recital that begins with the young Will wishing for a spaceship for Christmas, getting a piano instead but still becoming a space cadet in the most endearing way.
Aided by bullet points and back-projected images from the charmingly naïve school, Pickvance pitches his, shall we say, wide-ranging treatise somewhere between Chopin, Scott Joplin, Jools Holland, a behavioural scientist and the archetypal nutty professor.
The writing's clever, almost poetic, and his piano playing exudes an effortless, verging on careless expertise.
Run ends August 24.
A JOINT bank account has been raided to provide Shona Brown with the electronic equipment needed to "loop" her flute, voice and keyboard.
And the result is a short but pleasant show in which Brown navigates the technology well to present tuneful folk-pop songs and atmospheric compositions with an informal, fingers-crossed-this-works manner.
Not the finished article perhaps but an instrumental incorporating Gaelic psalm singing and a more dancey tune that might have sprung from Irish-American folk-funksters the Olllam showed a musician with a sure hand on the tiller.
Run ends August 9