Theatre related stuff on TV and Radio Jan 16 - 22
Constellation considerations @RoyalCourt

Travelling Light at the Lyttleton - light entertainment?

TravellingLightNicholas Wright's new play Travelling Light is what I like to call 'theatre lite' and I don't necessarily mean that in a derogatory way. It's not a deep play, it's a nice play, charming, engaging for the main part and entertaining which is sometimes just what you need after a hard week.

It's the story of Motl Mendl who returns to the remote village in Eastern Europe where he was born to collect his late father's possessions but while there the seeds to what becomes a long and successful Hollywood filmmaking career are planted. 

The grown up Motl (Paul Jesson) acts as narrator setting the scene to his early life and filling in some of the emotional back story with Damien Molony taking up the reins as the young Motl.

But it is not so much the story of how Motl became a filmmaker and the sacrifices he made that makes this play but the villagers who get involved in his early projects. They are a rich mix of colourful characters with strong views and opinions on how sophisticated city boy Motl should make his film.

The villagers are led by local timber merchant Jacob Bindel (Antony Sher) who is illiterate but nonetheless a successful businessman and the money behind the film project. As you would expect Sher just commands the stage stealing all his scenes - but then he is given most of the best lines. He is a master at his craft and a joy to watch in any role. His Jacob has a distinct way of expressing himself and a distinct vision for the film and naturally, he just can't help but interfere. 

Travelling Light has a slightly long but probably necessary set up but then quickly picks up pace. Film clips are projected simultaneously on the wall of Motl's aunts humble village home and a large screen above the stage which works really well and brings the film making process to life. However, the problem with theatre lite is that while I enjoyed it for its humour, romance and charm, I can't imagine remembering it at the end of the year other than the joy of having seen Sher on stage again.

If you want an un-challenging and amusing evening at the theatre that has been produced with the usual National Theatre quality and polish then give it a go. If you want something that is side splitting or has more depth then it probably isn't for you.

I'm going to give it four stars but of that Sher gets a whole star all to himself.

Travelling Light runs at the Lyttleton until March 6 before touring to The Lowry,  Manchester; Grand Theatre, Leeds; Waterside Theatre, Aylesbury and Theatre Royal, Newcastle

***What's on Stage has just posted these production photo's***


Paul Jesson is the obvious one as he was in Cock with Mr W two years ago but there is potentially another, Lauren O'Neill who plays the love interest Anna was in Bright Star, according the programme although I can't find her listed on IMDb.