BWW Reviews: Geffen Presents Breathtaking PIANIST OF WILLESDEN LANE
The Pianist of Willesden Lane
based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen
adapted & directed by Hershey Felder
The Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse
through June 24
What makes this piece so theatrically satisfying is first of all it has a true story told simply and in sections, whereby Golabek does not stand and spill monologue after monologue. Instead of rambling, she tells a little piece at a time, plays the piano - divinely - so the audience is doubly moved, no triply, because there are not only the images conveyed through the words and music but also those actual pictures projected on multiple screens behind, that as set pieces serve as fashionably elegant picture frames for Golabek's family members. Greg Sowizdrzal is to be lauded for the visual projection design and Trevor Hay and David A. Buess for the set design.
Backed by Felder's unique directorial vision for her very personal yet universally beloved story, Golabek proves just how remarkable a pianist she really is playing great classical compositions by Claude Debussy and her beloved Edvard Grieg. She has ample opportunity as well to develop some pretty strong acting chops. It is her mother's own story, perhaps told to her many times over as she grew to maturity, so it's a familiar one, one that she feels to the depths of her soul. She paints the long, hard journey as if it were her own and happening for the very first time... fresh, not without its torture and heartbreak, but always theatrically splendid.