Saturday, December 01, 2007
The Piano Teacher
Like her contemporary, Adam Bock, Julia Cho's The Piano Teacher plays with judo-like grace and strength, against our expectations in order to better unnerve us, and to create an air of unease, even in the coziest of homes, and with the friendliest of narrators, former piano instructor, Mrs. K. (Elizabeth Franz). Kate Whoriskey does her best to tear down the boundaries between audience and actor, her most overly familiar (and therefore effective) act is to have Mrs. K. open the show by sharing some of her stockpiled cookies with the front row. Her suspense, she says, is now our suspense, and as the darkness creeps in on her, with the flickers of light drawing our eyes to something as innocuously menacing as a ringing phone, one can't help becoming fully involved. Is her former student, Mary Fields (Carmen M. Herlihy) as well-adjusted as she seems? Is Michael (John Boyd) even one of her former students? And was her husband, Mr. K., just doing crosswords with the children in the kitchen as they waited for their lessons? Save for one moment of unrestrained violence (that actually comes as a relief to an audience weighed upon by intense, sharply crafted pp suspense), The Piano Teacher will leave you on the edge of your seat, trusting nothing, fearing everything.