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A Sad Prelude: Chopin’s Last Tour

– Harriet Condron

Only a piano and stool compose the stage area. White spotlight hits them as the music of Chopin is played through the speakers. After a performance backstage, Chopin enters thanking an invisible host for allowing his performance. He’s in poor health, he coughs spots of blood into a handkerchief. This is Chopin’s Last Tour.

It’s easy to imagine the composer of guttural melancholy to be devastatingly beautiful. This is far from what actor Phillip Aughey delivers. In a monologue that describes the last years of Frédéric Chopin’s, we meet a man who is exhausted of his talent. As he takes us back in time he also seems to be exploring why he was gifted with this skill.

We meet him as he tours through Scotland, from venue to venue with the aid of Scottish sisters Jane Stirling and Katherine Erskine. It soon becomes clear that he resents the need to perform and his existence. Paris is at the forefront of his mind, it is there he falls for a former lover but his constant ailments cause their fellowship to drift.

Like most great men his love life is bittersweet. It is the cause of much of the pain he experiences as well as the muse to his great compositions. There is a conflict inside him, he appears chained to women without ever being able to love them as he does his music. Only through music that he can bare his soul.

He ends his monologue with a prelude written for his sister. It is profoundly sad with a deeper and darker bass line. It’s realises his true pain.

Phillip Aughey delivers a believable portrayal of a brilliant man at the end of his life whose love for music is at the heart. Dotted through the monologue are several compositions which are played perfectly and set the tone of a Romantic life.

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