The Chess Game by Forth Children’s Theatre


I’ve spoken little on this blog (but a lot on FCT’s) about the show the young people’s theatre  that I chair is putting on in the Fringe this week.  However I’d like to redress that now.  It finishes on Saturday night and unfortunately we have tickets left.

It’s a little known show; unknown would be a better word but we are privileged indeed to have its creator (Iain MacDonald from Greenfaulds High School in Cumbernauld) as our musical director.  Alongside him are Vic Laing as director, Kirsty Shaw as his assistat (at a mere 16 years of age) and Katy Barry as our voice coach.

It has been a special week as audience member after audience member have gasped at the professionalism of the show, the quality of the production and the sheer exuberance and ability of the cast allied to outstanding and memorable songs.

Well done everyone on stage and off for the power of work you have put in and the quality of the work that has emerged.

Here’s what the Evening News (respected critic Thom Dibdin) had to say…

A JAZZY score and light-hearted banter underpin the strong and serious message of FCT’s well-judged musical offering for the Fringe.

Originally produced by the company in 1985, The Chess Game is written by their musical director Iain MacDonald. It is both a timely piece of entertainment and one which perfectly weighted for its young performers.

A collection of anonymous, white and black-clad figures emerge out of darkness. Over the musical they form up into a hierarchy, with individuals taking the roles of the chess pieces, and then the pieces take on the aggressive qualities of the game of chess, to a brilliantly twisted finale.

The older members of the cast, such as Rebecca Gilhooley as the White Queen, and the quartet of girls as the media-savvy Knights, put in strong and subtle performances.

The younger members shine too. Hayley Scott and Liam Thomson as the lead pawns trade on their strengths – hers in her voice, his in his acting – with great, heartfelt performances.

Which is what makes this production so entrancing. It entices the performers out of their comfort zones – but not so far as to leave them exposed – with strong music and great rhythms that are complex in structure, but satisfying to listen to.

Run ends Saturday

Please let me know if you would like tickets.

Forth Children’s Thearte. The Chess Game


Well, we’re three nights into our run with OK sized audiences  ; good for an unknown show.  But we need to up the ante on that if we are to cover our costs.  So that starts at 1.50 when we preform on the Lower Stage on The Royal Mile.

It’s an open air event and this is the scene from my window…

But we will carry on regardless with 39 kids and a battery operated generator.  Should be fun…

After that, a bit of flyering and back for a Barbeque at base.

The first review of the show has come in from Thom Dibdin.  He was very complimentary ad even used a couple of my pictures.

Apps, Happiness, Casablanca and The Chess Game

 

When Two Queens Go to War… Rebecca Gilhooley and Julia Carstairs in FCT’s The Chess Game. Photo © Mark Gorman

By Thom Dibdin

Start it up and lets go! Day One of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe dawned bright and clear. No monsoon, no rain, just a crisp morning with light wind and sunny skies.

A perfect day for a play called Happiness, it would seem, at a sparkling new venue to boot: The Playhouse at Hawke and Hunter Green Room. Good timing too, for the Tron Theatre’s revival of Casablanca, the Gin Joint Cut – which arrives in Edinburgh with a slew of four and five star reviews under its belt. And to round off the day, a visit to the first Edinburgh Local Hero, with the fabby FCT’s The Chess Game, at Inverleith.

 

The Cast of The Chess Game, by FCT. Photo © Mark Gorman

Finally the Local Heroes, Forth Children’s Theatre. I always enjoy reviewing their productions but was slightly concerned to be there on first night of The Chess Game, particularly when the company has just said good-bye to a very successful generation of young performers.

No worries, though, The Chess Game was excellent. Not perfect yet, but the voices will mature and grow in confidence over the years, as will the acting. There are several in the company who need to learn to speak up and out, as the mumbled spoken lines into their boots. Director Vic Laing could also have improved some of the blocking. He left several of the more diminutive members of the company stuck out of sight at the back in big ensemble numbers and tableaux which should have given everyone a chance to shine.

That said, the young company tackled this piece about war, redemption and taking responsibility with real maturity. There are several very problematic moments which they made pass by with a natural fluidity to their pacing. Their musical performances pushed right to the edge of their abilities too – well beyond their comfort zones – and they made the tricky arrangements sound simple.

Of course they do have some cracking support, and those responsible for the wardrobe did an excellent job. The live band were crisp and supportive under the leadership of Iain MacDonald who wrote the words, music and lyrics of the show – which FCT first performed back in 1984. A thought-provoking treat. And I found myself humming the tunes on the way home.

So, come along to our venue…at Inverleith Church Hall, Ferry Road (Top of Granton Road), from August 5th – 13th at 7.30 with matinees on Saturday 6th and 13th at 2.30 pm.

Tickets are priced £12 (£10 conc). All tickets are £8 on Sat 6th Matinee.

Call the FCT Ticket Hotline to place your order on 07794 144372.

The highs and the lows


Ria is distraught.

Her idea of doing a degree in Dentistry has been swept away.  Although she did great with 4 Highers including crash Chemistry, but her English Higher evaded her.

In some ways this doesn’t surprise me because her English teacher was an absolute moron.  She refused to put study classes in.  Constantly failed to mark homework, lost half the class’ portfolios.  In short she was not fit for purpose.  I complained again and again to the school about her and they acknowledged my point but to no avail.

Tom, by stark contrast, is cock a hoop having passed his two Highers and Three Int Two’s.  He had a different teacher for English but he cannot believe he passed his PE Higher because, guess what, the teachers sucked.  And guess what.  I complained about them too.

For all the others that dedicated themselves to their profession.  I thank and applaud you.