Conductor: Ben Glassberg
Reviewer: Nicole Evans
Comedian and composer Vikki Stone’s debut orchestral composition, Concerto for Comedian and Orchestra, is a tricky act to sum up. Conceptually, it has the potential to be great, and at times it is, the problem lies with knowing it could be better but not quite being able to put a firm finger on what needs to change to make it so.
Following a full orchestra taking to The Waterfront stage for the last of its weekend offerings, Stone arrives in platform heels and full evening dress to take her place as concerto soloist-cum-comedian. Jumping straight in with some deliberately awful gags, and beginning her endless taunts at the pointless nature of the viola, we really don’t know what to expect. She does try to get the audience involved, and most are at least with her; albeit in a slightly bemused fashion.
Comparing the orchestra to kitchen equipment and telling the, slightly too pointless to connect with, tale of an ill-fated couple’s first dishwasher purchase, Stone narrates her, occasionally funny, story alongside her own composition, naming and explaining each movement as she goes. The juxtaposed ambience of tale and tune works well for the most part, we just struggle to gain a vested interest in what ensues.
The exodus of the viola players having decided they are fed up of being the butt of the jokes, and the replacement of said players with unsuspecting audience members playing utensils, is a particularly clever and humorous addition to the piece which raises a good few laughs. The rest of the anticipated comedy inclusions wear thin, however, with somewhat disappointing results.
The orchestra themselves can’t be faulted musically and it’s quite clear they are a professional bunch. Although they could look like they are enjoying themselves a little more. Being seemingly unaware of Stone’s presence at times and appearing to want to be elsewhere, their expressions remain that of an unscripted blank animosity towards their host and a mere few raise a single smile.
Stone really needs to perfect the backstory of this production, and work on a more naturally deadpan, less school teacher cross panto, style of executing it without having to rely on her notes to do so, in order to make this party-piece work. I’d welcome a chance to see it again as it has the potential to morph into something quite fabulous, it’s just not there yet.
Reviewed on 16 July 2017 | Image: Contributed
Latitude Festival runs from 13 – 16 July 2017 at Henham Park, Suffolk