I really must come up with a good reason why I don’t like follow spots and smoke. Normally my dislike of them doesn’t matter, but in the case of Chess, they use them right at the beginning, and they use them well! Why is this a problem? Well, if you don’t like follow spots and you don’t like smoke, but the first thing in the show is a follow spot and smoke, it distracts you from the show. It’s not a problem with a poor show, but unfortunately, The Q’s production of Chess is not a poor show, so I feel I need to justify my dislike of follow spots and smoke. One day, my prejudice will have a justification, but this is not that day. Chessis just too good.
Chess is, in many ways, poles apart from Krapp’s Last Tape, which I gushed about the night before, but it shares two important characteristics: it tells a remarkably human story, and allows an audience to engage in some depth with its central characters. That said, I think I missed some elements of that story, due to some distortion of Tim Rice’s lyrics. I am unsure whether this was a problem with enunciation or amplification, but I suspect the latter. Of course, putting such complicated sentence structures into lyrics was probably a bad idea in the first place, but in this instance it was not a fatal one, probably due to the talents of this magnificent cast.
The ensemble gathered for this production must be one of the best I have seen in Canberra, but they were not a patch on the magnificent talents of principals Stephen Pike, Christine Forbes and Lexi Sekuless. Even an old cynic like me felt goosebumps!