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Past Shows (2000-now)
Sunday October 10, 2010
The Star
By Amy De Kanter

THREE musicians make their bows dance over strings. One stares haughtily down his nose; one beams happily; the third glowers at her companions, daring them to make one false move. She anticipates mischief and so do we. The difference is, we are hoping for it.

And it happens. Without the slightest pause in their playing, the trio engage in duels, serenades, wild chases, musical chairs and all sorts of pushing, shoving and generally mad mayhem. Pluck is back and oh, how I have missed them. Judging by the full house on the opening night of its Musical Arson, I am not the only one.

If you are a stranger to Pluck, you have not been paying attention. The trio have been to Malaysia many times before, each time gathering new theatre-loads of fans. One look at their posters tells you they are not serious musicians. Well, they are not serious. They are musicians and very good ones, but at their pseudo concerts, laughter rings out louder than the applause.

The first time I went to one of their performances, the violinist dove off the stage to steal my companion’s shoe. NOT what we were expecting. And that is the magic that is Pluck, the surprise, the sudden turn of events. With bizarre antics, the group startles its audience into surprised, appreciative laughter. This time around, if you sit in the front row, you are tempting fate. Your shoes will be safe, though I can’t promise any more than that.

Pluck’s three members each have their own endearing persona. Violinist Kit Massey is the consummate musical snob. He is the only member who speaks – at least in full sentences – during the show. His accent, words and mannerisms are all affected (think Gil Chesterton from Frasier), to show how cultured and clever he is, invariably without much success.

Massey keeps his eyebrows so high they almost disappear into his hairline, pulling up his chin and nose along with them. He annoys his companions. Jon Regan plays the viola (and a very tiny violin) with what we used to call a campfire personality – cheerful but not very bright. He’s just pleased as punch to be on stage and while performing, grins at the audience as if we were his best buddies. He annoys his companions. Flora Allison, like Massey, is relatively new to Pluck. The original cellist, Sian Kadifachi, had a baby last year and now both the women share performances. Those who have seen Sian will miss her. With jet-black hair, bright red lipstick and dark eyeliner, she was a ferocious, glowering presence.

Allison seems to have accepted that not everyone can shoot daggers out of their eyes the way Kadifachi does, so she has created someone completely new. Her cellist is on no friendly terms with her fellow players, but she smiles girlishly at the audience. She tries to keep the other two in line by stamping her little foot, but of course, never succeeds. Kadifachi may be missed, but Allison is welcome.

Allison also brings her voice to Pluck, though not for speaking. After Massey takes over her cello in mid-number – he sits behind her, takes over one hand, then the other, and she squirms out from between the intruder and herinstrument – Allison grabs the microphone and sings Fever. That on its own got loud applause and would have simply been an enjoyable number, but of course with Pluck, things are never that simple.

As a classical music lover, I did cringe at the odd missed note during the performance. But since it was their opening night and since in the past they had played to perfection, I figured it must be jet lag and hope the rest of their three-week run goes more smoothly.

Even if you think you know nothing about classical music, you will recognise several of the pieces. You will hear the theme from The Lone Ranger, for example (actually entitled the William Tell Overture, Tell being the archer who shot an apple off his son’s head. Trust me, it is a good thing to know in this show.) and themes from the Pink Panther and The Muppet Show.

There are also two seasons out of Vivaldi’s four, Por Una Cabeza (which film buffs will recognise as the tango number from A Scent of a Woman), Ravel’s Bolero and an unidentified hard rock song in which Massey attempts to play his violin Jimi Hendrix style and is painful on oh so many levels. For a rousing finish, the trio clown it out with a signature Pluck piece, Tchaikovski’s 1812 Overture. Trust me, you ain’t seen nothing like it. Which also applies to Pluck.

‘Pluck: Musical Arson’ is playing at PJ Live Arts until Oct 23. For enquiries, call 03-7969 0439 or visit