Review: A Handful of Keys


A Handful of KeysI’ll be honest, the prospect of two guys, two pianos and a vague description from a friend of ‘piano music with banter’ did not sound like the most promising way to spend two hours. But I was dead wrong. A Handful of Keys is in fact such fun: camp, quirky, cheesy and really, quite startlingly brilliant.  

You will recognise most, if not all of the music and find yourself hand clapping and foot tapping along. You will also laugh. Probably, you will laugh a lot. Expect send-ups of famous musicians, parodies, glittery zebra wellies, awesome piano playing and even a cheeky bit of nudity.

This present incarnation of A Handful of Keys stars the established Roelof Colyn, a ‘diamond’ from Kimberly, and newcomer James Smith, the possible lovechild of ‘Einstein and a giraffe’. The more experienced Colyn anchors the show beautifully with excellent comic timing and superb piano skills. Smith is quite something to behold, and he brings a zany youthful zest and a fascinating voice. 

The pair have great chemistry, likened to that of ‘Will and Grace’ or ‘Zuma and the Guptas’. They read the audience so well and we experienced some ad-libbing, which resulted in unscripted cracking up from our entertainers. I’m pretty sure they have as much fun as the audience does. 

Colyn and Smith performed a great Barry Manilow/Lionel Richie mash-up. Or should that be referred to as a Manilie or a Richlow medley? They can pull off anything – classical, rock, pop – and the show also includes a fabulous ‘History of Broadway musical in 12 minutes’ with extracts from a whopping 148 different numbers. These guys can sing, they can act and, by golly, they can play the piano.

Ian von Memerty’s show has enduring appeal with an impressive 23-year track record of delighting audiences. For existing fans the winning formula is consistent, but much of the content is brand new, keeping the show fresh and current. Don’t hesitate to book now at Montecasino, you can expect a handful of keys, a bellyful of laughs, and a wardrobe full of sparkly jackets.

Nicola Beach

A Handful of Keys is on at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasiono Theatre until 7 January 2018.

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