Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Festival: There’s a Monster in my Piano

GarlicTheatre’s piano play will be a hit with kids

By Matthew McCreary

Question: What do you do when you hear a strange|munching noise from inside a piano?

Answer: Call the Piano Doctor, of course!

What he might uncover inside said musical instrument is another matter altogether, but in the wonderful, weird and whimsical world of Garlic Theatre it could be anything. If the title might seem something of a giveaway, perhaps it’s best not to spoil the ending of their newest work, which will be just one of the highlights of the festival’s packed and colourful family strand.

For Iklooshar Malara, the co-founder of the company, it’s another chance to engage with the young audiences she has been performing and writing for for over 15 years now.

“It’s about the inner world of this piano,” she says. “I don’t think many children know what a piano looks like on the inside, so we’ll be using a very nice French toy piano which has the mechanism of a real instrument.”

As well as stage props, the production also uses animation and puppetry to bring the story to life.

“There are notes living inside the piano, like Madame Minim and Major Crotchet, so it’s nice for kids to see the notes being translated.

“We are unlocking the audience’s imagination with sound effects so they can imagine things too. It’s like imagining what’s inside a small object — sometimes imagination is more powerful than when you see things.”

This very quality is perhaps the main advantage of writing for children rather than adults, as suspension of disbelief is never quite an issue.

“Children key into strange things, they accept things,” says Iklooshar.

“It’s a very playful show. Children can be frightened of anything and it plays with audience’s fear and imagination, creating a world that is a bit more special than this ordinary world.”

Having said that, the company are hoping that parents and grandparents will also get a kick out of the show. “I never see our work as specifically for kids, it has to work on all levels,” says Iklooshar.

It might also seem surprising that in this modern world of laptops and smart phones, there is still an appeal for good old fashioned live action, comic theatre, especially amongst the young. But it’s a medium which by now Garlic Theatre are adept at bringing over to a young audience.

“We don’t want to just tell a story in a kids’ TV way,” says Iklooshar. “We are just creating a world and kids enjoy it. Children respond to comedy particularly well, they will laugh. But you can’t get away with anything, you can’t let things float on.

“They’ll be intrigued by special effects only for so long, you also have to have something for them to care about.”

  • There’s a Monster in my Piano, October 23-25, Brian Friel Theatre

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