By Nicholas Wright
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
Cornerhouse, 9 February 2012
What you have here is something of a paradox.
For Travelling Light is a play about the beginnings of cinema that as part of National Theatre Live is being screened in cinemas world-wide.
The conceit of the play is that Hollywood, or rather the spirit of that iconic place, has somehow been transposed to a Jewish village in Eastern Europe. So we have the preview to gauge audience reaction, the casting couch, the star system, the conventions of storytelling – and there are also (rudimentary) films within the play.
In spirit it is quite close to Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso and, naturally enough, the story is told through flashback: a Hollywood director, a kind of Irving Thalberg figure, telling the story of how he first started out.
It’s a gorgeous watch, the performances possessing a real propulsive force. And Antony Sher’s character Jacob, the owner of a timber mill and the chief financier of the films, is virtually a force of nature.
There is a dedicated National Theatre Live site with trailers and productions pics of Travelling Light. Check it out here.
And details of future National Theatre Live events at Cornerhouse can be found here.