14 March 2012 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews The Lowry theatre welcomes The National Theatre’s delightful production of Nicholas Hytner’s Travelling Light which combines stories from a largely Jewish shetetl (village) with the dawn of the motion picture. Upon the death of his father, Motl Mendl ( Damien Molony) returns to the village of his birth and discovers he has inherited a Lumiere Cinematograph and begins making motion pictures of the quiet village and its inhabitants. One local resident in particular, timber mill owner Jacob Bindel ( Anthony Sher) is mesmerised by this art from and finances Mendel’s first feature length drama. As well as providing the funds Bindel also provides a female assistant, Anna ([Lauren O’Neill]) who is a true beauty on and off the screen as well as a skilled assistant with a passion for film making. As the project progresses Bindel becomes increasingly hands on in his approach and tries his hand at set design, directing and script writing which varied results. Sher excels as Bindel; delivering each line with bite and perfect timing and his presence fills the auditorium. He has some of the best lines - hands down and the most comedic and touching scenes in the show. At times stepping a touch too close to Fiddler on the Roof territory and being some what hackneyed in places; it's the performances that save this play from being distinctively average. There are few surprises in the plot but it is the cast that hold everything together from the leads right through to the ensemble and even the young fiddler seen only in one scene. The dialogue at times is lacking depth and at times it feels like the play is moving in real time with some scenes feeling drawn out, unnecessarily. The use of projection of the films Mendl is making is a great touch providing some heart warming moments as well as a few laughs and is not over done, as can often happen when projection is incorporated in to a play. The set is the real crowning glory of this production. Bob Crowley’s attention to detail is welcomed with the inside of Mendl’s father’s home is the hub of the play with some beautifully constructed wooden houses visible in the background making the shetetl seem very real and the centrepiece of this charming yet often unbelievable story. At times this play is less travelling light and more trudging onwards but is entertaining enough to pull it off. - Ruth Lovett Related Content
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