Hershey Felder’s portrayal of the melancholy master, Fryderyk Chopin, unfolds in the San Diego Repertory’s Lyceum Space, the smaller and more intimate of its two theaters. As such, Felder’s Chopin’s stated premise that everyone in the audience is a student who’s paid 20 francs for the privilege of hearing his story and hearing him play is much more credible than if “Monsieur Chopin” were on the much larger Lyceum Stage. Felder not only performs and inhabits the persona of Chopin, but he engages theater-goers throughout in impromptu Q&A.
While the audience participation, always an awkward undertaking, slows down the one-act, two-hour show, it doesn’t detract from Felder’s supple and dramatic performances of the works of Chopin. The great composer’s short 39 years on life were sad, even tragic, but what music they left behind, and after all, that’s what’s drawing record crowds to this Rep engagement.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 9/25/19.)
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David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.