Chess | No Exit Cafe | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Chess Member Picks The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through April 25 2010

In this tissue-thin 1980s musical featuring a score by ABBA boys Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, brinkmanship between American and Russian chess champions becomes a transparent, overwrought metaphor for the Cold War ("playing with pawns, just like Poland"). Catchy melodies alternate with noodling nothings as interchangeable power ballads pile up for nearly three hours. A five-piece band plays as quietly as possible, draining most of the rock energy from the songs, and codirectors Fred Anzevino and Brenda Didier (who also choreographs) can do little but direct traffic on the tiny No Exit stage. The show should be snore, but Theo Ubique's effortlessly musical cast sing marvelously, and their let's-put-on-a-show pluckiness (they serve food and drinks when not onstage) is winning. Oh, and a few glasses of wine help a lot. --Justin Hayford

Price: $15-$25 (dinner packages $35-$50)

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