[Theatre/Musical Theatre ~ NSW]
The Garage International @ Adelaide Town Hall, Sun 21 Feb.
Phil Aughey returns to the Adelaide Fringe for a repeat season of his play Chopin’s Last Tour; a monologue interspersed with live performance excerpts from Chopin’s repertoire.
The play is set in Edinburgh a year before Chopin’s death. Chopin is in a somewhat disgruntled mood. After extricating himself from fans and their unwanted contact he is sitting in a chair, planning his playlist for a final London performance before returning to his beloved Paris. As he muses on his choices the audience hears about Chopin’s life and loves and how these and political events of the day have influenced his composition.
Aughey’s respect for Chopin is evident and he has researched his topic thoroughly. However this means that the script can be overly full of biographical references at times. The odd humorous aside thankfully adds some lightness to an otherwise fairly bleak script. This version of Chopin is not of the Romantic celebrity writing haunting melodies but of a youngish man facing mortality and a decline in his romantic and economic circumstances. Chopin is not at a happy stage of his life and there is not a lot of joy coming from the stage.
As writer, performer and pianist Aughey has a lot resting on his shoulders. His physical resemblance to Chopin is remarkable, though notably older than Chopin, who died at a prematurely young age. The action takes place entirely from Chopin’s chair, so there is not a lot of physical action. Aughey’s piano skills are competent – not concert pianist level – but this is a play, not a concert. If he more seamlessly introduced the songs into the action his lack of virtuosity would not be a distraction. For the sake of authenticity Aughey affects a Polish accent which hinders rather than helps clarity and dramatic impact.
As an overview of Chopin’s life and character Chopin’s Last Tour offers its audience a good starting point and will tempt many of the audience to go home and listen to some Chopin. And what can be wrong with that?
Chopin’s Last Tour continues at The Garage International @ Adelaide Town Hall, at various times, until Wed 24 Feb.
Book at FringeTIX on 1300 621 255 or adelaidefringe.com.au. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.