I have never really got chess. The game I mean. Maybe I just don’t get on with board games, but I’ve never been able to see what it is that fascinates people about the game, yet alone how to play it. Alas, I have to say the same about Chess the musical....I just didn’t get it. It’s a show that’s been around for years – indeed, the songs Anthem and I Know Him So Well are well known in the musical theatre canon. The score is by ABBA geniuses Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, lyrics by Tim Rice and has a cult following – with a recent concert production at the Royal Albert Hall starring Broadway diva Idina Menzel, in addition to a touring production with actor-musicians directed by Craig Revel Horwood. However, when the game of chess is being played out on stage – coupled with Cold War politics, rivalries between the US and the Soviet Union and an intriguing love triangle – I was left ultimately uninterested and unmoved by a show that I know others love. Such is the delight of being a theatre reviewer.

That’s not to criticise the quality of the production at Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Aberystwyth is a seaside town with a reputation for dodgy hotels and high-end culture. Home to the National Library of Wales, the town’s Arts Centre is part of the University and programmes a diverse selection of live performances and films throughout the year. The month of August sees a medium scale in-house musical production. I saw a lovely production of The Sound of Music there a few years ago, prior to the Andrew Lloyd Webber production, ironically casting Welsh actress Connie Fisher as our TV Maria. Many West End stars – on hiatus from regular work in other shows – take the long and winding road to the depths of coastal mid-Wales to tread the Aber boards and to play roles that they wouldn’t get the chance to play elsewhere.

In this year’s Chess, Tom Solomon as Anatoly, the guy caught at the centre of the love triangle, has the best male voice in the cast and uses it to great effect on his soaring big solo number Anthem at the climax to Act 1. Solomon has been picking up a number of West End credits since I first noticed him (regionally) a few years ago and it is surely only a matter of time before he gets a bigger break. His solo album More Than This is well worth a listen too. Tim Rogers is a slightly edgy Freddie, the guy who both loses the game and loses his lover to Anatoly. Julie Stark is a standout as Florence, a girl who has lost her father and is looking for security in life, falling for Anatoly in a cliff-top meeting. Ms Stark has a We Will Rock You voice and it was no surprise to see that show listed amongst her credits – she stops the show in a thrilling Act 2 finale. And West End and Broadway star Lori Haley Fox is on board as Svetlana, Anatoly’s estranged wife who reappears in his life, moving from Russia after he has fallen in love with Florence. With great diction and stage presence, she makes a fine match for Stark in the fabulous I Know Him So Well. The remaining ensemble of the 18-strong, hard-working cast include Welsh born Leighton Rafferty as an intriguing Arbiter, with Edward Lewis French – one of Caroline O’Connor’s boys in The Showgirl Within – making a mark as the White King.

Ali Allen has designed a simple but innovative set with large size chess pieces framing the stage and moving in and out of the action at various moments in the piece, as the action requires. Her costumes show the juxtaposition between the two sides, Russians in red/black, Americans in blue/white. And Anthony Williams – an Aber darling after the success of Chicago last year – directs the show tightly, although there was occasional less tightness in some minor parts of the choreography in one or two company scenes. Alas the show is so overloaded with lyrics at times that it becomes shouty and clarity is lost....but such is the nature of the beast I fear.

The gentleman sitting next to me had trouble keeping awake in the overlong first half, commenting wishfully that the second half wouldn’t be quite as long. At just under three hours (including interval) it was a long time for this chess novice...but maybe I should learn more about the game itself before seeing this particular show again.

Chess plays at Aberystwyth Arts Centre until 27 August