“2 Pianos 4 Hands” – Phoenix Theatre

This review aired on KBAQ January 19, 2015



Phoenix Theatre

Phoenix, AZ

We all know kids who are pressured by their parents to start studying and playing the piano at a very early age.  We know this imposed fate is an enormous challenge to anyone trapped in such a situation and we know that focus in these cases excludes just about everything else from that child’s life.

But is that piano fate worthy of a play about two friends who can’t escape it?  That is the premise of Canadian playwrights Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt’s 1996 play “2 Pianos 4 Hands,” now at Phoenix Theatre through February 1.  But the scant and frail show that runs just 90 draggy and boring minutes without intermission is an intolerably experience.  This is not a play that will draw you into the two characters lives and when the play finally coasts to a welcome end, you’ll think you’ve been anchored in your seat for hours.

It’s not the fault of the spiffy production which boasts Bruce Sevy’s swift direction that tries without success to make this intolerable play interesting or because of two resourceful actors, Mark Anders and Michael Kary, who play the two characters.

Since the play creates no viable interest and with the talky but uninteresting script that never makes piano devotion a viable choice, those theatergoers lucky enough to fall asleep will miss nothing and since there is no audience reaction to the stage stupidity, snoozers will not be awakened.  Absolutely nothing happens in this sophomoric piece that isn’t expected and the writers find nothing dynamic about piano playing.

Director Sevy tries without luck to keep things interesting but he’s given nothing by the playwrights to make that goal possible.  And pity the poor two actors who learned the inanely stupid and stilted dialogue.

There’s a nice set depicting a sterile room with two pianos where the action transpires but since you see the set as soon as you enter the theater, there’s little left of interest to look at after the play begins.  Contemporary costumes and sterile lighting add nothing visually interesting so “2 Pianos 4 Hands” plods on and on.  I began checking my watch less than a half hour into the piece hoping that the 90 minute running time would soon end.

“2 Pianos 4 Hands” was supposedly successful north of the border.  But in the United States we like plays that say something interesting and that is not the case with “2 Pianos 4 Hands.”  For tickets, call the Phoenix Theatre box office at 602-254-2151 or order tickets online at www.phoenixtheatre.com.

Grade: D