Writer: Mark Reid
Director: Matthew Gould
Reviewer: Iain Sykes
The game of chess is a complex one. A multi-layered battle of cerebral tactics, each move and its implications and ramifications thought out to the nth degree, it’s fascinating to watch the game unfold even if the casual observer at times doesn’t have the first clue as to what’s going on. It’s very much a definition that could apply to The Gambit, Mark Reid’s play based around the first meeting of two grand masters of the game, twenty five years after a major breakdown of what was seemingly a firm friendship.
Beginning with a good few minutes of on stage chess action, the play soon comes to life as the current and past lives of the two rivals are slowly revealed over the game and a bottle of vodka. Anatoly (Ben Rigby) is the steady, chess obsessed character who hasn’t experienced much of life outside the rules of the chequered board, while Garry (Nick Pearse) is the bad boy of the game, the man who realised that there is much more to life than pawns and kings and is seeking backing from some shady characters to prop up his bid to run for president. The play is about much more than these basics though, multi-textured as it is with the deep rooted personality clashes and the disintegrating friendship between the two and the bigger themes of politics and ideas.
Reid’s use of language in the play is complex but the two great actors make a sterling job of ensuring that the wordy script is delivered well and emotionally, even on the occasions when Reid ‘s rapid switches of emphasis of subject make this already intelligent play a little unnecessarily taxing.
All this leaves The Gambit as a most thought provoking play. One which keeps the audience’s minds engaged long after the characters have left the stage. It’s an intelligent play and definitely one to see if you want to be challenged in the best possible way.
Reviewed on 15th July 2015