The Piano Man
What makes us who we are? AllthePigs Theatre Company takes this question, weaving it into a beguiling real-life enigma and producing a show that’s also a hymn to the power of theatre, with moments of poetic beauty.
When, in 2005, a shoeless, suited, soaking wet man was found wandering the Isle of Sheppey, off the Kent coast, he entranced the newspapers. Mute and suffering from amnesia, he only communicated through drawing. It was soon established he was a fine pianist and he was dubbed ‘the piano man’.
But the truth behind this fairy-tale mystery was a let-down. It was claimed he was a fraud, a Bavarian called Andreas Grassi, who ultimately returned to Germany. And yet, unanswered questions swirled. The bare, cold facts left gaps that couldn’t be filled by a place of origin.
It’s in these spaces in the story that this devised piece dances, bringing together physical theatre and neurology as it explores the ways we find and lose ourselves. The script is perfunctory and characterisation is thin, but words aren’t really the point here.
When, joyfully, the set itself transforms into something else, Grassi (Daniel Hallissey, as sad-eyed and expressive as Chaplin) smiles ruefully. And as the ensemble cast ebbs and flows together like the rushing ocean, Sam Carrack’s production evokes pain, need and wonder.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.