City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Chess the Musical, Festival Theatre, Review

By Katie Stephen - Posted on 01 April 2017

Show Details
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Production: Andrew Panton (Director), Darragh O’Leary (Associate Director/Choreographer), David Highman (Musical Director), Kenneth MacLeod (Designer/Video Designer), Grant Anderson (Lighting Designer), Calum Paterson (Sound Designer), Richard Cerato (Assistant Director), Jennifer Logan (Assistant Designer) Robert Wilkinson & Shonagh Murray (Assistant Musical Directors)
Performers: Daisy Ann Fletcher (Florence Vasey), Barney Wilkinson (Freddie Trumper), Jamie Pritchard (Anatoly Sergievsky), Shane Convery (Alexander Molokov), Emma Torrens (Arbiter), Jacob Stein (Jacob de Courcey), Hayley VerValin (Svetlana Sergievsky), Aaron Kavanagh, Aidan MacColl, Emma Mullen, Hannah Pauley, Lorna McMillian, Kaitlin Reynell, Jillian Cunningham, Sam Willison, Stone Fuglaar, Emma Harding, Grace Galloway, Lydia White, Lukas Hickman, Max Alexander-Taylor, Meg Foran, Pia Hagen, Ross Baxter (Ensemble)
Running time: 

The most recent stars to be put through their paces at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland take to the largest stage in Edinburgh to perform Chess the Musical. Pre-dating the global phenomenon that is Mamma Mia, ABBA’s Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus show they can write more than just a catchy tune with a politically charged battle that leaves no word unsaid, and no doubt that the simple game of Chess could fuel such angst.

Exploding onto the backdrop of the Cold War, the Chess World Championships is the playing ground for a blackmail filled love triangle between two of the games’ grandmasters and the woman they both love.

If there were a musical fit to showcase the talents of each individual department of RCS, then they hit the nail on the head. Although flawless in it’s execution, it felt at times that each component of the show was fighting with each other for the audience's attention. Incorporating live and recorded video, a mobile lighting grid equipped for stadium performances and an ensemble all hoping for a moment in the spotlight, although a marvel to watch could be overwhelming at points allowing plot heavy songs to be lost in the extravaganza.

Comprising of multiple visual elements, it was a comfort when slower paced numbers, such as ‘I Know Him So Well’ or ‘Mountain Duet’, filled the room as it allowed the audience to catch up, and enjoy the vocal abilities of the lead cast.

Director Andrew Panton’s take on this “blink-and-you’ll-miss-it” storyline saw pace increase and intensities heightened, with an ensemble as the backbone of the piece. Being clad in monochrome and hi-tops, the 80s could not be more present in Kenneth MacLeod’s overall design, balancing the clean cut shapes of the tiled chess board floor with the over the stop pinstripe suits and reflective jumpsuits.
Now ready to step into the professional industry, these students of Scotland’s most prestigious arts education institution seem more than ready to handle the musical theatre stages of the world. Regardless of their department, they will endevour to be seen and heard.

Until Saturday 1 April
Tickets available at