Check Nate

A friendly game of chess makes for arresting theater

Clive Worsley (as Al-Hafi) and Will Huddleston (or Nathan) in a scene from Nathan the Wise.
Becky Hurwitz
Clive Worsley (as Al-Hafi) and Will Huddleston (or Nathan) in a scene from Nathan the Wise.

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Written by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, translated by Edward Kemp. Starring Will Huddleston. Directed by Soren Oliver. Through Mar. 11. Tickets are $21-25; call 510-436-5085 or visit www.theatrefirst.com.
Traveling Jewish Theatre, 470 Florida (between 17th and Mariposa)

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Ultimately, you could say the same thing of chess. The existence of noncombative versions of the game, like Metapontum (a hexagonal chess variant in which players do not fight each other but cooperate to reach a particular goal), hint at the game's friendlier face. Even as played according to the regular rules, chess can be seen as a peaceful, social activity, requiring only a few pieces of wood or plastic and playable by people of all classes, ages, and races. While commonly portrayed as a symbol of conflict, chess, as Lessing's drama suggests, may be one of the greatest equalizers of our times.

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