fauxklore (fauxklore) wrote,

Chess and Other Matters

I spent much of the past week on a business trip to Albuquerque. The meeting was rather slower paced than I would have preferred and I had a lot of "why are they bothering to present this?" thoughts. But I suppose the meeting accomplished what it was supposed to.

One of the pleasures of New Mexico is food. I went out for lunch with a large group on Wednesday, including three Swedes who got their first experience of green chile at Church Street Cafe. I thought the food there (at least the vegetable tamale platter I had) was good. I did not find it incendiary but I do have fairly high heat tolerance. I was amused that what impressed the Swedes most in Albuquerque was the Apple Store. Well, that and seeing a coyote. I also got to have dinner with slymongoose and Groot, with much conversation about books and music and food and life in general. The chile rellenos at Mary and Tito's were also good.

As for the weekend, I did a used bookstore run on Saturday. I got rid of 29 books and acquired 14. At least that's a step in the right direction.

Finally, I went to see Chess at Signature Theatre yesterday. I was only slightly familiar with the score, which I admit to not really caring for much. The sole catchy song, "One Night in Bangkok", does not really do anything to advance the action. The production at Signature was trimmed down from the Broadway one and that was definitely to the show's benefit. The spare staging was also to the show's benefit. But the story, which is really about the Cold War despite the ostensible love triangle plot, is still not very interesting. The American chess player is a brash, jingoistic type who cares only about money and throws temper tantrums accusing the Russian player of cheating by getting coded messages via what flavor yogurt he snacks on. The Russian is conflicted, having fallen in love with the American's second, a young woman who gets a lot of lyrical ballads to sing but no actual character development. (She was born in Hungary and taken away during the failed 1956 uprising. There is a plot element involving her father, who may still be alive.) There are also a KGB type and a CIA type pulling the strings.

Signature does a good job, as much as it is possible to with this mediocre material. Jeremy Kushner was a suitably obnoxious Freddy. Euan Morton did a reasonably good job as Anatoly, but slipped in and out of his Russian accent at times. Jill Paice, as Florence, gave the most notable performance, possibly because she has the most to sing. Unfortunately, none of that can completely overcome a score that substitutes amplification for passion.
Tags: books, musicals, theatre, travel

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