Hershey Felder’s play with music takes us through the life of its eponymous composer in an informative fashion. Felder plays his subject, and his music, as well as narrator, taking us from the artist’s childhood to his legacy. You learn a lot.
Felder’s piano sounds great, his characterisation of the Great Man is conscientious and his Russian accent… let’s say he’s generous with it. The direction from Trevor Hay helps with the atmosphere and the projections used are impressive and accompany the music wonderfully.
My only reservation is that there’s something of the lecture about the whole event. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – the one hour and 40 minutes fly by and Felder can hold a stage, while snippets of anecdote and scandal are grabbed at ferociously. But there’s an air of the classroom here, nonetheless.
A real life note raises the stakes. An invitation to perform the play in Russia is well positioned by Felder to add a contemporary commentary on gay rights in Tchaikovsky’s home country. Seeing how the composer lived in fear because of his sexuality, and was blackmailed by his estranged wife, it makes lessons in the show important ones to hear.
Until 22 October 2018