The Arts

Chess

Chess featured image

Reviewed by Paula Citron
October 13, 2011

Chess
Mirvish Productions
Music by Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus
Book and lyrics by Tim Rice
Directed and choreographed by Craig Revel Horwood
Performed by James Fox, Shona White, Tam Mutu, Rebecca Lock, David Erik, James Graeme and Steve Varnom
Princess of Wales Theatre
Sept. 24 to Oct. 30, 2011

The 1984 musical Chess comes with the best of credentials. Tim Rice wrote the book and lyrics, with music by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA. This production, however, is not their ideal.

It’s coming off a 10th month tour of the British Isles, with Toronto its last stop, and it seems tired. The cast is also the orchestra, but director/choreographer Craig Revel Horwood can’t rise above routine staging.

The story takes place at a chess match during the height of the Cold War when winning was a huge prestige and propaganda tool. There are also Russian/American love complications.

An in-depth scene-by-scene synopsis is provided. Is this because people are having trouble following the plot? That could be because the singing diction is deplorable. The leads are belters who shatter your eardrums.

The first sight of Christopher Woods’ chess piece costumes is impressive, but the effect fades through tedium.

Chess continues at the Princess of Wales Theatre until Oct. 30.

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