Loop review: The Theatrical Piano

Jeff Lankov’s concert-theater experience gets audiences thinking about social justice at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

published Sunday, February 28, 2016

Photo: Courtesy Jeff Lankov
Jeff Lankov

Addison — The modern world is full of dissonance—often times in both method and delivery. Jeff Lankov’s The Theatrical Piano: Songs, Sirens, and Social Issues charges into that dissonance headlong and transmutes it into something still dissonant, but also challenging and beautiful. Lankov’s program addresses some of the social themes that pervade today’s society with a brave, frank voice, telling stories through music, movement, and more.

Lankov all but sets the piano on fire with his passionate, precise keyboard work. It’s clear that he pours all of himself into the performance of each piece, and that’s what makes it mesmerizing to watch as his hands fly over the keys with grace and speed. You’re watching a maestro at work, whether he’s in command of a ringing baby grand or a jangly toy piano.

There are some striking works in the performance lineup, such as “The Body of Your Dreams” by Jacob TV, a curious mix of spliced-together infomercial lines and a piano score coupled with a team of dancers from Big Rig Dance Collective. The piece is a powerful look at how the obsession with finding the perfect body through minimal effort harms us all with its false promises.

The additional artists who collaborated with Lankov on this piece add a deeper element to the collective narrative, even allowing Lankov a moment as an actor opposite Sara Shelby-Martin during “SILENCE = DEATH.” The talented team of dancers is well-choreographed in a fitting contemporary style that goes well with the work of the modern composers that Lankov favors. Neil Mowles and Shelby-Martin both perform with a professional ease that complements Lankov’s music but does not detract, allowing the focus to stay on the messages that he is communicating with each work.

For a unique concert-theater experience, The Theatrical Piano is a riveting and timely program, one that will stick in your mind long after you leave your seat—and that’s exactly what Lankov intended.


Performances remaining on the Main Stage:

  • 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3
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Loop review: The Theatrical Piano
Jeff Lankov’s concert-theater experience gets audiences thinking about social justice at Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

by Jessica Fritsche

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