nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,
nineveh_uk
nineveh_uk

I have failed to write my Chess review yet (poll answer)

I am rubbish at writing reviews.

The answer to the poll was (4) Svetlana is also a KGB agent. Svetlana was not a KGB agent, though I'd like to see a production of the London version in which she is, because I think it could work in interesting ways, and at the end we would see her and Molokov shake hands before going off-stage.

As for the other options:

(1) One Night in Bangkok is not sung in Bangkok, but is a karaoke number. Sung by Freddie in a Merano bar. This was the moment when I knew that this was definitely not the Chess I was expecting, and it turned out that the whole action was set over four days in Merano. Apparently one Australian production set the entire thing in Bangkok

(2) Molokov has a solo about his manpain. Replacing, due to the significantly changed plot, The Soviet Machine. The title means Forget me if you can even though quite how much is true is also a question, and if it is he actually singing a song about how sad he is for having his wife sent to Siberia?

(3) Anatoly/the Russian deliberately throws the final chess match. Though the internet tells me this also happened in the Broadway version (one of the ones with Walter. Why is Walter necessary in any version, I ask myself. As far as I can see he only adds even more, and unhelpful, complexity to the plot). From the position of having seen them, I think I like the London and Swedish versions as the two extremes - in London, in which he will give in on everything else, but not on that, and in the Swedish one, when it symbolises how completely he is defeated by Soviet Oppression(TM) that despite his agony he has no choice. Doing it for a bargain for Florence's maybe-alive-Dad just feels sentimental.

(5) There is a comic play-within-a-play version of Romeo and Juliet, during which a swozzle can be heard. This opened the second act, as a "touristy thing happening in Merano, with irony". The swozzle wielder was a minstrel/fool of some sort. This does not appear to be in the original Swedish production, so might be an invention. It was bizarre (understatement), but entertaining, and served to set up a public embarrassing confrontation with Freddie.

I have sort of written a review, or at least I will have when I add that it was excellently staged, well acted, and had terrific singers. The women were much better than in London, where Florence was too much of a belter and not always quite on pitch, and Alexandra Burke had a good voice that was not well-matched with the rest of the production. They also made the Arbiter female, which worked well. The singer playing the Russian undoubtedly had the most difficult job of needing to be not Tommy Körberg*, which he achieved by being a very difficult physical type as well as direction choices. TL:DR should you be in Helsinki, I recommend it; if you don't know the musical at all, have a listen. As ever, much of it is on YouTube.

*Whereas Michael Ball was free to channel Tommy Körberg, and did.

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Tags: chess, musicals, theatre
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