Classical piano is more amusing, and more heartbreaking, than two young men imagine. (Chemainus Theatre Festival photo)

Life’s tough and tender lessons are on menu in 2 Pianos, 4 Hands.

Chemainus Theatre’s lastest show is about more than just music. It’s about life.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s latest production, 2 Pianos, 4 Hands, is a surprising piece of theatre.

When you look at the poster and see the stars, Max Roll, and Bruce Kulak, clowning around on a piano, you might think this is slapstick or stand-up comedy, but it’s actually a thoughtful look at two young men as they pursue their dreams.

Director Richard Greenblatt says in his program notes, “One of the most gratifying aspects of performing this show is that when audience members talk to us after the performance, they mostly talk about themselves, and not about us…At our first workshop presentation, which went far better than we could have dreamed, a friend of ours said to us, ‘You know, the show’s not about the piano at all. It’s about tennis!’ …Whether their dreams were about sports, music, another art form, or being prime minister, [audiences] all seem to project themselves into this story.”

It’s true. We did the same, talking after the show. The theme is universal.

In this case, the two actors/musicians are individually trying to become professional classical pianists.

We follow them from early childhood days when they were forced, protesting vociferously, to practise hours every week while their friends were outside playing, through the teen years when they started to develop their talent, and finally, to the disillusioning days of knocking on doors looking for work, before realizing that they’re just the best piano players in their neighbourhood. It’s a tender, touching tale but it’s also full of humour.

Not surprisingly for anyone who knows about music lessons, the first brutal hurdle to overcome is the initial appearance at the music festival. Kulak and Roll are hilarious in this one. You’ll be laughing along with the poor festival volunteer who has to hear hundreds of performances of the same piece played by duos of youngsters for what seems like all eternity.

We follow the students through their competitive teen years to the time when, school finished, they decide to embark on further training to enhance their chances of a career. Both hit the wall, discovering that the gurus in studios and conservatories are all the same: snobby, and dismissive.

Hilarious skits ensue, featuring the pair trying to earn a living in music, either by playing in piano bars, or teaching at home.

Woven throughout the show are some fine performances of works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Billy Joel, Hoagy Carmichael, John Lennon, Franz Liszt, Vangelis, and more.

The simple set and unchanging costumes pull the audience right into the show as theatregoers see themselves and their dreams and realize that you win some, and you lose some, and some are rained out, but you dress for every game just because you love it.

Just Posted

Ladysmith, Stz’uminus celebrate ‘Salish Wind’ unveiling

Ladysmith and Stz’uminus residents gathered together last Wednesday night to witness the… Continue reading

150 flags to be raised at Ladysmith’s Aggie Hall for National Child Day

Ladysmith Family and Friends leads project to have children, but also a few adults, paint 150 flags.

Heavy rainfall causes sinkhole along Ladysmith street

Heavy rainfall and the resulting erosion caused a sinkhole to form early… Continue reading

Second boat sinks in Ladysmith Harbour in less than a month

A boat has sank in Ladysmith Harbour marking the second such incident… Continue reading

Chemainus Festival takes theatregoers on comedic Christmas trip to Cancun

Grab your sandals and 80s Christmas sweater and let Chemainus Theatre Festival take you to Cancun.

UPDATE: More searchers out looking for missing senior near Nanaimo

Search and rescue personnel from all over the Island are looking for 73-year-old Faye Hanson

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Drones take off to search for missing North Okanagan women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

VIDEO: Rare comic showing Superman’s 1st appearance to be auctioned

The 1938 comic features Superman hoisting a car over his head

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

Most Read