Review – Kev Orkian The Guilty Pianist – The Closed Venues Tour, SpaceCabaret@54, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Sunday 28 August 2011

The Whingers have dodged so many bullets at Edinburgh that they are thinking of taking it up professionally.

Indeed, Andrew has already submitted Phil’s name to the organisers of several Russian Roulette tournaments.

Proof positive of their powers: just when the Whingers were at the stage when Dame Probability couldn’t possibly serve up another “win”, along came Kev Orkian.

Who he? Well that’s what we said initially but this younger Nathan Lane lookalike really knows how to work a room. Even when that room is the SpaceCabaret@54 which sounds really glamorous, doesn’t it, but is actually unprepossessing and potentially unworkable.

Anyway, here’s the pitch: KO is a real-life gifted Armenian concert pianist from Essex. His stage persona is an exaggerated comedy Armenian which only someone who is genuinely Armenian could get away with, or even contemplate trying.

The result is a winning combination of musical and character comedy.

His examination of the parallel development of pop music and Armenian music is side-splitting. But can anyone explain why Andrew was laughing so much when he pointed to Phil as he danced to “YMCA”? Or why Phil howled at KO’s gestures towards his own crutch then pointed at Andrew during his MC Hammer “Don’t Touch It”?

There was also a marvellous routine involving  musical requests supposedly left by members of the audience in the form of sheet music.

The Guilty Pianist feels like a guilty pleasure thanks to the peculiar dynamic at work by which the audience is invited to laugh at the funny foreigner by the funny foreigner. But it seemed rude to turn down an invitation and Mister Orkian does it with a knowing charm that we quickly gave way to the scenario. The result: we found ourselves in such stitches that Kev is well on his way to making the WEW list of all-time favourite comedy character creations from Bob Downe to Dame Edna. And the v. exciting news is he’s appearing with the latter in this year’s Wimbledon panto. The Dame is going to have strong competition.


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