Chopin Must Die
Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 20th April, 2013
London’s Polish community effectively took over the Mermaid theatre complex at Blackfriars this evening, for a one-off performance of the musical Chopin Must Die (in Polish, with English surtitles). It’s a reflection of how large the Polish community is in Britain, as well as of how vibrant London is as a multicultural Arts centre, that this event occurred not long after the world premiere in Warsaw. Directed by Marcin Wrona — better known in this country for his films — the show has as its central conceit the notion of what would happen if scientists were able to bring the composer Frédéric Chopin back to life — presenting the resurrected body of a genius whose name is commemorated and almost sanctified all over Poland. Frankly unable to cope with what he encounters in the modern world, in which TV companies, politicians and others are almost fighting over the chance to be with him, the composer is not surprisingly disorientated. We see cameos of his sister as well as of his lover George Sand (the latter strikingly played by Katarzyna Groniec, as a wild-haired zombie in a black Victorian gown, eerily reminiscent of Helena Bonham Carter). The music (apart from a fine blast of Chopin at the very end) has a modern score by Marcin Macuk, much of it accompanied by a disconcerting mixture of jerky and sensuous movements by the cast of singers and dancers. It was clear from the whoops and applause when some of these first came on stage that they were household names to at least part of the audience. The overall impression given was of a chaotic dystopia in which Chopin was not alone in feeling a fish out of water. Some of the parodies of TV shows and commercials were a little broad brush to my liking. But the company will return to Poland tomorrow knowing they have made an impression.