Theatre Tripping

Featuring: People like us

Take your seats in good time for the performances, turn off your mobiles and don’t rustle toffee papers in the auditorium.

London Theatre

Travelling Light

The setting is a shetl (Yiddish for small town) in Poland at the beginning of the century, we are at the house of Tsippa, a comical character whose photographer husband has recently died. Tsippa's nephew, Motl is preparing to leave for the city after attending his uncle's funeral but is persuaded to stay when Jacob Bindel (Antony Sher), his wife and son ask for their photography to be taken as their son is off to war.

The story is, in parts, narrated by a movie mogul called Maurice Montgomery who we later find out is Motl in the present time, he made it big.

Motl takes still photographs and then experiments with moving pictures. Jacob's son dies while fighting and he visits Motl each day imploring him to play the movie to him, as it's all he has to remember his son by.

Jacob, who incidentally sounds like Alexander Orlov the meerkat, tells Motl that he will invest in a movie but it must be of the village and it's inhabitants. Motl baulks at this idea as he wants to make for the city and possibly America to make  his fortune. While making the film Moto falls in love with his assistant Anna and casts her as star of his next film. He gets Anna pregnant but she breaks his heart by implying that the child could be Jacob's.

Motl escapes to America, becomes successful and ends up auditioning a young American actor, who turns out to be his grandson - Anna had Motl's daughter who in turn had a son.

It's a great play to watch as each bit of film footage which Motl takes is projected onto a big screen at the back of the stage. There is comedy throughout the play for despite the setting being so humble and poverty stricken,  the villagers have a tremendous sense of humour when in front of the camera.

The timing of his play is very apt given that silent film, 'The  Artist' has been nominated for multiple Oscars this year,it's encouraging that this type of film can still be appreciated.