Chess 2016 Review

Date: 17th November 2016
Society: Evesham Operatic & Dramatic Society
Venue: Evesham Arts Centre
Director: Greg Pearson
Musical Director: Oliver Lister
Choreographer: Polly Taylor, Gail Andrews, Chloe French and Greg Pearson

Report Author: Andy Brown

The story centres around a politically driven cold war era Chess tournament between Grand Masters from Russia and America. Add to this a contest to win the love of a woman, who was in a relationship and manager of the American, who falls in love with the Russian who is estranged from his wife.

On entering the auditorium, we saw a simple but nevertheless effective set. The floor of the stage was a Chess Board with rostra at the back on several levels and both stage left and right. Upstage were squares which incorporated LED lighting. There were four large television screens to show images of locations and photographs.

Add to this small pieces of furniture and props such as chairs, tables, the stars and stripes and the hammer and sickle and a game of chess.

The cast met the challenge of a difficult piece of musical theatre head on and achieved a performance Evesham Operatic and Dramatic Society can be proud of. The cast were well matched to the roles they performed.  The highlight of the evening for me was the show stopping number “I Know Him So Well”. Sung by Amanda Golding as Florence and Alison Roberts as Svetlana it sounded as if coming from a West End production. Both played their parts brilliantly.

Rivals Nathan Warren as Freddie (The American) and John Dix as Anatoly (The Russian) both brought out their characters to the audience well. Dix gave a powerful performance and sang the Anthem at the end of act one superbly.

The Arbiter played by Polly Taylor was commanding and directed us through the story.

The show is set to music almost throughout. The music was well balanced during most of the show although at times overpowering and it was difficult to hear some of the dialog, such as during the scenes with journalists. 

The lighting was well designed with good use of moving head LED’s. The use of red and white light to depict the USSR and the USA sides worked. The use of the LED’s during the television interview was particularly effective. Costumes were simple but looked authentic. The choreography was done well and involved the whole cast to good effect. 

Many congratulations on an excellent production and I look forward to seeing other productions in the future not least Brassed Off in May 2017. 

Andy Brown – Regional representative district 12.