Playing the long game


WASPISH but witty Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood is making all the right moves in theatre.

He is directing an amazing cast in an extraordinary new staging of the classic musical Chess.



Kicking off at The King’s Theatre on Tuesday, the show is best known for its music written by Tim Rice and ABBA’s Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson.

Featuring great musical scores including One Night In Bangkok, Pity The Child, You And I and I Know Him So Well the production is certain to appeal to all.

Craig told Live: “You wouldn’t think of putting a game of Chess onto the stage – it’s boring to watch and there’s not a lot of movement or theatricality.

“And this story is set against the backdrop of the Cold War, which is equally still and silent — it’s just a mindgame more than anything else.

“So theatricalising it has been a challenge and I’ve got the orchestra as chess pieces who play and react to the story that evolves within the space”.

Chess recounts the tale of two of the world’s greatest chess masters battling it out at the world championships.

But their greatest contest is for the love of one woman — Florence Vassy.

Craig added: “What I’m doing is bringing out the love triangle story and the battles of emotion rather than the battle of the cold war.

“It’s a show about a married man going with a woman of the wrong side — it’s almost a Romeo and Juliet type story that doesn’t work out in the end”.

The cast are a company of 30 performers who can play at least three instruments each.

That means Horwood can direct a full orchestration, doing it “bigger and better than if we had an orchestra, because you would never get 30 people in the pit”.

He explained: “What we’re working on this time is to do it big — but still make it feel intimate and tell the story through the instruments and the music, as we always do.

“People rarely see the musicians in the pit, of course, and don’t see what instruments play which line, and here they will see it. I am using that to support the drama”.

Chess is on from Tuesday to Saturday, with showings at 7.30pm and Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm.

For tickets (from £16) call 240 1111.