MTC Cybec Readings – Reykjavik. Or, Of Zugzwang and Ping Pong

MTC are holding the Cybec readings from the 22nd to the 24th (November.)

These readings are always a joy to attend. Cheap ($10) and cheerful, one is treated to great quality writing unencumbered by pesky- one might say expensive- production value or high expectations. They’re rather like a good ol’ fashioned bedtime story.

Tonight was Reykjavik, by Paul Galloway, who wrote Realism, the Wal Cherry Award for Best New Play in 2007, and produced by MTC in 2009.

Directed by Matt Sholten with a strong cast including his stalwarts Zoe Ellerton-Ashley, Roger Oakley and Brad Williams, Reykjavik brings us back to 1972 where a world chess championship hones in on an intensely deliberated match between Soviet champion Boris Spassky and undefeated Bobby Fischer. All sorts of chess and gaming metaphors are used in this piece of writing as charged as the surprisingly personable character of the chair, where the characters strategize and zugzwang all over one another. From Wimbeldon to ping pong, from the romance of pawns facing each other with nowhere to move to an offer to buy one’s wife shoes, Galloway plays us like pieces on the board where a cleverly formulated twist may or may not occur.

This theme has certainly been explored before, but it takes a mastermind to slip in the nuances and romance that meld the play into a very satisfying night out at the theatre.

Tomorrow’s (23rd) reading is Happy Ending by Melissa Reeves, directed by Aidan Fennessy, and Thursday’s (24th) is Eating Alone, directed by Adena Jacobs.

Ps. Not to undermine the level of intellect of this play, but I must say I am happily reminded of Sydney Sheldon’s If Tomorrow Comes, starring Madeline Smith Osborne and Tom Berenger, a little series based on his book about a cat burglar, in the very memorable ‘Chess Duet’ Scene. Quite clever, very dramatic, and 80’s at its best, complete with a gold overcoat.

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