OUR GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY
by Hershey Felder.
The Other Palace, 12 St James Street, London SW1E 5JA to 22 October 2017.
Mon – Sat 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm. Sun 1 Oct & 15 Oct 2pm & 7pm.
Runs 1 hr 55 mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 264 2140
Review: William Russell 26 September
A marvellous musical evening
There is no escaping the fact that Hershey Felder is a force of nature. This one man play about the life of the great Russian composer which he has created is a tour de force even if at times it is a bit like being force fed an entire box of Cadbury’s Milk Tray – or even a lot of Hershey bars.
Felder, who has written the play, has made a habit of this kind of thing for several years – other composers to get the Hershey treatment range from Gershwin to Chopin, Liszt to Irving Berlin, and Bernstein to Beethoven. He is a most engaging story teller, starting as himself, explaining that he has been invited to perform this particular play in Russia, and wondering whether to do so. Then we find out why. Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, whose music is played world wide, was gay, which in 19th Century Tsarist Russia was not a good thing to be, and still is in Putin’s Russia.
Felder is a gifted narrator and an accomplished pianist as his Piotr tells his story we get lots of extracts from his works. At times it seems a little like the music is the equivalent lantern slides to a lecture, but the concept works and when the composer is at his most extravagant, which was quite often, Felder creates a dazzling storm on his keyboard. Tchaikovsky had a hugely successful life, but one dogged by the fact he was “an introvert” who fancied rather young men.
There was a brief, unsuccessful marriage, and a host of young lovers who inspired him, including a nephew he called Bob who killed himself. Tchaikovsky died from Cholera, although some have it he committed suicide, others that he was murdered because of his sexual proclivities by his peers who regarded him as a disgrace.
The set is very handsome, there are some exquisite back projections as the scenes and the mood changes, and it is a most diverting evening.
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky: Hershel Felder.
Director: Trevor Hay.
Scenic Design: Hershey Felder.
Lighting and Projection Design: Christopher Ash.
Costume Design: Abigail Caywood.
Sound Design: Erik Cartensen.
Dramaturgy & Research: Meghan Maiya.