Kev Orkian – The Guilty Pianist, The Closed Venues Tour.

Tuesday, 23 August, 2011

Impeccable timing

SpaceCabaret @ 54 – Edinburgh – August 5-27th – 19:05 (0:45)

Kev Orkian is a thoroughly likeable man with an intentionally paper-thin persona that is at once charming and brilliantly funny.  ‘The Guilty Pianist,’  an illegal immigrant, snaps between witty banter, intelligent and original comic piano playing and an elaborate reenactment of the history of dance with e slick confidence of a seasoned but passionate performer.

The show starts with a brief introduction to the Armenian superstar who will be our host for the next hour. The character, Kev, is a repetiteur pianist playing for cash, dressed in a waistcoat and suit trousers with a corny white satin, piano-keys tie.  He belittles the venue, his accommodation and the Eurostar train that brought him to the ‘euak aay’ –yes, he was clinging to the roof as it crossed the border.  Some of the material is Hackneyed but the delivery and timing are delightful.  It is also a relief that what could become unsettlingly right wing (a mockery of an immigrant) is kept buoyant and jovial and even the most BNP audience member could not fail to fall for Kev.

He picks an audience member to sign a piece of sheet music.  The joke is somewhat lost but the act is entertaining and good natured.  He then plays through the numerous requests he has been given –his ‘shit [sheet] music.’  He begins with an odd sounding piece of inverted arpeggios and unrecognisable chords, before flipping the sheet round and revealing he’s been playing the Blue Danube with the music upside-down before casting the music aside with a well timed derogatory “crap.”  He proceeds to fall asleep in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, and to churn his way through Mozart’s Piano Concerto in C. Only he is missing the final page –why?  Because he gave it to Anne in the audience of course.  This is a great payoff.

Kev Orkian has a talent for improvising off audience reactions as well as a strong script.  His multiple reincorporations and asides are at once hilarious and smart.  They never interrupt his flow and keep the room overwhelmingly on his side.  He is extraordinarily engaging.  Even his exclamation of “I’m knackered now!” followed by “I’ve forgotten me accent!” goes down a storm, and makes his subsequent flurry of poor English all the more enjoyable.

While some of the material falls a little flat; Kev’s musical ‘The Foreigner’ a hash of show-tunes with new lyrics is passably humorous but rather obvious and drags a little, for the most part the set sails along. The show reaches an undeniable high as Kev gives us a comparison of English and Armenian music and dance. Dancing like a man possessed to Elvis, MC Hammer and Eminem (among many), intercut with traditional Armenian numbers, Kev has the audience helpless with laughter.  His energy and his conviction, combined with his impeccable timing make this an hysterical tour-de-force.

Kev Orkian is well worth seeing.  He is cheeky and loveable, funny and ‘real’ and his musical comedy is exceptional for it’s difference and it’s variety.

Cast: Kev Orkian

Writer: Kev Orkian

Company: Producer – David Hill, Technical Operator – Wayne Garnett

Review August 11th

(c) Rebecca Gibson 2011


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