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Trying to categorise the performance put on by the trio called Pluck is a very difficult task, Elizabeth Tai discovers after laughing through the classical music performance cum comedy recently.
By Elizabeth Tai

We were confronted with three seats on a bare stage bathed in red light. What was in store for us, we did not know. All we knew about the show put on by Pluck was that it’s what happens “when great music falls into the hands on talented idiots”, as the publicity blurb said. Okay, we figured out that meant this is a show during which classical music would be played, and, somehow, it was going to be funny. How this would be done, we had no idea.

A look at the programme told us that the “Pluckers” are Jon Regan, the group’s viola player; Sian Kadifachi, the cellist; and Adrian Garratt, the violinist what has “busked on three continents”. The group hails from London and has won the Tap Water Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They’ve performed to sold-out houses in Britain, Europe and Australia. Malaysia, too, at least on the night we were there – the show’s debut last Wednesday night.

The performance began rather oddly with a nervous-looking Regan cradling a stack of instruments – violin, viola, cello – and smiling uncertainly at the audience as he walked onto stage and sat on his chair. Kadifachi and Garratt made their entrance next and, calmly, as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world, Garratt and Regan proceeded to play their instruments like guitars – much to the horror, I’m sure, of classical purists. But the result was great music – and it provoked the delight of the audience. We even heard the titters of children.

What’s in it for the children, you may ask? For one, it was very educational. No, really, hear me out. Garratt educated us on his “little hobby” of collecting audio equipment, talking about the turntable, those huge cassettes so in vogue in the early 1980s and the first Walkman. And as he tried his best to look very serious and professional with his presentation, Kadifachi and Regan had some fun backstage providing us with “sound bites”.

As the trio pranced around the stage with their antics (actually, only Garratt and Regan pranced – Kadifachi mostly sulked), we soon realised that Garratt is the leader. Well, he tries to be, anyway. The other two didn’t seem to respect his position much. And we learnt that Regan is terribly jealous of Garratt and tries to grab the limelight as often as possible. The two were forever engaged in a duel of one-upmanship. Kadifachi, on the other hand, was ever unflappable and stood no nonsense from the other two. Though she did have the world’s best fake smile especially reserved for Garratt.

The Pluckers performed classics from composers like Bach, some jazz, and a few Beatles numbers – all in a very unconventional way. Try getting three people to sit or stand on one chair and play a complicated classical piece!

It was not all violins, viola and cello, though. We were also treated to Kadifachi’s sultry vocals in the jazz piece Fever. Kadifachi, it seems, graduated from the prestigious Guildhall School of Music with honours in cello and jazz singing.

Later, we found out how to make music with… wails and sobs. Now that had to be the funniest segment of the entire show! Not to mention the most original.

And, yes, there is audience interaction, and two lucky folks got to be wooed by the Pluckers. Both even had an educational lesson on how to use musical instruments – namely the triangle and something that looked like a sausage.

It’s very difficult to categorise Pluck’s performance. Think of it as a classical music performance, a jazz concert, and educational programme and comedy all rolled into one.

All in all, it was one of the most enjoyable shows I’d attended in a long time. Dripping with creativity and originality, Pluck’s performance is not to be missed.