Review: Travelling Light

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Leeds Grand Theatre

The title is the starting point for a piece of work that is at once knowing, innocent and smart.

In a story about a young man who leaves home only to return to make movies – before abandoning home again, the title is a play on Motl Mendl’s attitude to emotional and actual baggage It’s also about the light that travels from his projector while making the first movie ever made in an East European Jewish shtetl at the turn of the 20th-century.

Mendl is played by Damien Molony, last seen in West Yorkshire Playhouse’s ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore and it’s a testament to him that his complex and layered performance almost matches that of master craftsman Antony Sher, playing Jacob Bindel, the producer of the first movie ever made.

Mendl returns to the Jewish settlement following his father’s death to discover a camera that captures motion pictures. His imagination begins to run wild, flamed by the muse Anna, played beautifully by Lauren O’Neil, only he needs money to make a movie. Step forward wealthy timber merchant Jacob.

The piece lacks drama, but it is a consummate piece of storytelling. When the shoot gets underway and the moneyman makes all kinds of unreasonable demands, the relationship of director and producer is hilarious.

It is a production that wears its intelligence lightly and confidently.

To Mar 24.