Preview: Chess: The Musical, The Pleasance

THE smash hit West End musical Chess might not seem the obvious choice of production for the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group - after all, with its sinister backdrop of the Cold War it’s hardly a comic opera.
EUSOG cast of Chess. Pic Oliver BuchananEUSOG cast of Chess. Pic Oliver Buchanan
EUSOG cast of Chess. Pic Oliver Buchanan

“EUSOG embarked upon the journey of Chess after initially being attracted to the demanding nature and scale of the instrumental challenges.

“It also gave us the opportunity to broaden EUSOG’s staging horizons,” explains the company’s Lucy Gibbons, adding, “Not only does the 20-strong orchestra form a prominent feature of this production, the musical intricacies must be aptly handled by the choral cast.”

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For those unfamiliar with the piece, in the final years of the Cold War, a Soviet and an American come together to compete for the title of World Chess Champion.

As they struggle for supremacy on the board, their lives begin to entangle. Politics and romance soon overshadow the game until there is much more than a title at stake.

What is really being played? The Game? Or its players?

With a score by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and lyrics by Tim Rice, Chess “pushes the boundaries of the student stage” says Gibbons.

“This production has challenged past standards of EUSOG shows, resulting in an integrated creative vision from publicity to choreography, as well as achieving new heights in stage and lighting design.

“The breadth of experience and strengths of the production team are strikingly evident across all aspects of this production and could not have been better employed for this show.”

With an ambitious set, the production, which runs at The Pleasance Theatre until Saturday, utilises film and projection. Directed by Ethan Baird, with musical direction by Jay Cameron, the cast includes EUSOG newcomers Douglas Clark as Anatoly, Tadgh Cullen as Freddie, and Lydia Carrington as Florence.

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Established in 1961, EUSOG is the University of Edinburgh’s longest running musical theatre society. Staging three productions a year, ranging from well known Broadway classics to the operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. Chess: The Musical follows a successful Fringe run of Avenue Q .

Chess: The Musical, The Pleasance, until Saturday, 7.30pm (Saturday matinee 2.30pm), £12, 07958-645 396