The Glass Piano at the Print Room at the Coronet
This beautiful venue in Notting Hill suits 19th-century set play The Glass Piano perfectly. The stage design suggests an 1840s Bavarian castle effectively: the shined black stage plays with the light, while the chandelier and piano convey grandeur. Declan Randall’s set creates a tone elegantly, and Deborah Andrews’s costumes are equally convincing.
The play, by Alix Sobler, is based on real people. Princess Alexandra of Bavaria suffered from the delusion that she had swallowed a glass piano as a child, and Grace Molony plays her as someone who must inch herself round corridors to avoid catastrophic breakage. Bath time is an almighty palaver. Molony is the perfect blend of ringlets, cut-glass consonants and fragility. Alexandra lives, isolated, with just her father King Ludwig and maid Galstina for company, her mother having run off into the grounds of the castle for a feral life some years previously. That is, until dashing philologist Lucien arrives to study the area’s children and help the king with his poetry, which suffers from a form of solipsism. In his imagination, only Ludwig himself exists and he feels it would be an intrusion to imagine anyone else. This is a quirky and charming touch, of which there are many throughout the show.
Laurence Ubong Williams is sensitive as Lucien and Suzan Sylvester and Timothy Walker as Galstina and King Ludwig add a more comic element. Gabriel Prokofiev’s score, played by award-winning concert pianist Elizabeth Rossiter, punctuates the production and adds class.
There are moments of philosophy, mostly through Lucien, such as his wondering who was the first person to speak and why, that make The Glass Piano a thought-provoking piece. However, the tone of the play is uneven, combining giddy farce with trauma and increasing histrionics.
Photo: Tristram Kenton
The Glass Piano is at the Print Room at the Coronet from 26th April until 25th May 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.