For the past two years my children and I have been bowled over by the talent and professionalism of Forth Children’s Theatre’s fringe shows, so it was with high expectations that we went along to The Chess Game at Inverleith Church. And I am delighted to say that we were not disappointed.
From the moment that the huge, black and white-clad, cast emerged on to the giant chessboard of a stage, my daughters and I were moved and entranced by the power of the massed chorus, belting out the opening number. It didn’t matter that we were unfamiliar with the music, written incidentally by FCT’s musical director, Iain Macdonald.
The show tackles the serious theme of war in a light-hearted way. This does not however compromise the gravity of the underlying message, that war is a game, even a whim of those in power, in this case the kings, queens, bishops and knights, that wreaks destruction and devastation on the oppressed ‘pawns’, foot soldiers charged with carrying out the fighting – for reasons that are beyond their care or comprehension.
The large cast of extremely talented youngsters deal well with these difficult themes, from the raw talent of the younger performers to the more nuanced, mature performances of some of the ‘older’, more experienced actors and singers. The ensemble numbers are magnificent, while the quieter solo numbers, such as the excellent “I hear the bell toll” convey the powerful emotion of the show.
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable evening for adults and children alike. Both my 9 and 7 year old daughters were mesmerized throughout. Jojo, 9, commented: “I loved the two queens, I thought they were really brilliant at singing. My favourite bit was at the end when all the characters had a pillow fight – I really wanted to get up on the stage and join in”.
Amelia, 7, thought it was a great show too. She loved all the music and singing and was delighted to discover that there were real musicians playing the music. She also loved all the black and white costumes of the characters.
We can’t wait until next year’s show!