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“The Fatal Game of Chess”

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Bell, Martin N. (American playwright, 1927-____), “The Fatal Game of Chess,”

a 40-minute tragicomedy in English in three scenes, set in an artist's loft, New York City, 2002,


  •  © 2002 by Martin N. Bell;  •  in Martin N. Bell’s The Fatal Game of Chess (New Paltz, New York, U.S.A.: The Author, 2002);  •  script/rights available from Martin Bell, 80 Burleigh Road, New Paltz, New York 12561, U.S.A., e-mail mnb@bestweb.net, telephone (home) 845-255-7954.  •  Cited by Martin N. Bell via ftp September 7, 2002; Bell says,

  §  Dramatis Personae Charlie Jacobs (m), 50, once a fashionable painter, now unknown; Aaron Ostrow (m), 55, Charlie’s landlord, a self made millionaire.

  §  Synopsis “(scene i) Ostrow raises Jacobs’ rent. Infuriated by Ostrow’s rapaciousness, Jacobs cracks Ostrow’s head with a hammer. What to do with the body? Ostrow groans. A different problem. Ostrow is sure to have Jacobs imprisoned. (scene ii) Ostrow’s leg is locked to a length of chain fastened to a radiator. A white line defines Ostrow’s limit. At first Ostrow is angry and combative, then he changes his tune to one of understanding and compassion. Ostrow buys a painting paying cash. During the exchange of money for art, Ostrow rips away Jacobs’ key ring. Unfortunately Jacobs has the key. (scene iii) When Jacobs is out Ostrow does stretching exercises. His hand now reaches beyond the white line. A chess board straddles the line. Jacobs returns. He has a letter from an art dealer who wants to see his work. While Jacobs considers whether to release Ostrow or kill him they play a game of chess. Ostrow sacrifices his queen. When Jacobs reaches to take the piece, Ostrow grabs Jacobs’ wrist. In a fit of uncontrollable rage, Ostrow pulls Jacobs into a choke hold. Jacobs’ neck snaps. Ostrow desperately searches Jacobs’ body for the key to no avail.

  §  Comment “Greed, dealt with by violence, leads to disaster. Three scenes, no changes, the painting Jacobs is working on, his life’s work fills the loft. The play had several staged readings at the Jewish Ensemble Theate, New York City.

  §  Themes art, captivity, chain, chess, greed, key, murder, oeuvre, rent, violence.

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