Dorothy Dittrich’s new play The Piano Teacher, gently directed by Yvette Nolan, is a meditation on grief and loss and the power of art to help connect and heal.
Meagan Leitch plays Erin, a famous concert pianist who recently lost her husband and child in an accident. Still in shock due to her loss, she can no longer play the piano.
To help overcome her inability to play she seeks help from Elaine, played by Catriona Murphy, a piano teacher who gave up on a concert career.
Both women have walls that are preventing them from fully being actualized, and both Leitch and Murphy keenly and deeply portray their regrets and pain.
Light comes into the play literally when Erin hires a contractor to install a window in her home. Played open hearted and warmly by Kamyar Pazandeh, it is the contractor’s vulnerability and risk-taking that starts to not only open Erin, but acts as an access point for the entire story. The emotional walls the woman have put up start crumbling as they start grieving and letting go.
The still grey of the two women’s lives is reflected David Robert’s open grey and white set, accentuated with a maze of piano wire at one end.
What seems a trend in dramas lately, Erin does not tell the other characters, or the audience, how her husband and child died until late in the play. Instead of using the revelation as a cathartic climax in act two, Dittrich’s story could potentially go much deeper by using it as a jumping off point.
A small quibble though as The Piano Teacher remains a beautiful, graceful and incredibly moving piece of theatre, filled with maturity and thoughtfulness.
The Piano Teacher by Dorothy Dittrich. Directed by Yvette Nolan. An Arts Club Theatre Company production. On stage at the BMO Theatre Centre (162 West 1st Ave, Vancouver) until May 14. Visit https://artsclub.com for tickets and information.