site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Newbury Nomads - Chess

4th to 7th October 2006.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Nomads make the winning moves

Chess was spectacular and left The Corn Exchange audience smiling

Newbury Nomads: Chess, at The Corn Exchange, from Wednesday, October 4 to Saturday, October 7

All societies have their ups and downs, but NOMADS is flying high. With a line-up of principals that any society would envy, inventive choreography, a large cast with obvious dedication and an impressive orchestra, Chess promised to be something special. It was.

The story concerns world class chess players, Frederick Trumper (Matthew Haynes) and Anatoly Sergievsky (Andy Milburn) whose games are interrupted by rivalry between their countries, followed by the love triangle between Florence Vassy, Trumper's PR (Juliet Clarke) Anatoly and his wife Svetlana (Tonya Walton).

The opening number was quite simply the best I have seen in an amateur performance. Packed with continuous action and full of colour it was spectacular and left the audience smiling.

The joy it evoked contrasted starkly with Frederick's bad temper and Anatoly's ponderings on the future for as the story continues this more serious side predominates, lightened by such wonders as the Russian gentlemen's gloriously drunken dancing and the lively second half opening number One Night in Bangkok.

Matthew Haynes as the impatient Trumper and Andy Milburn, the polite introspective Sergievsky, gave strong performances of the highest quality. Their voices and that of Juliet Clarke, faultless in the role of Florence, never faltered and brought to the music all the pathos and passion it demanded.

Praise too must go to the rich voice of Stuart Honey (Alexander Molokov), the ebullient Arbiter Tim Clarke, Tonya Walton impassioned as Svetlana and Daniel Maskell, a laid-back American.

Congratulations to choreographer Jeannette Maskell for those slickly exciting dances and to dancer Emma Newman in particular.

There were two superlative performances at the Corn Exchange last Thursday, one from the amazing cast and the other from Nic Cope and his orchestra who made the intricate score exhilarating from the plinking evocative Russian opening to the exuberant rock music.

What a pity that in the absence of a pit, the second too frequently overcame the first, in spite of miking, and words, even with this superb cast singing their hearts out, were often indistinguishable.

The excellent acting by everyone on stage overcame this to a degree and they and director Amanda Maskell with producer Daniel Maskell and his team deserve every accolade going for a superb evening's entertainment.