"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
MACK AND MABEL
familiar overture – all the best tunes back to back – is
not an ideal preparation for the patchy, often dark, narrative.
story is a true one, at least in outline. Slightly grumpy maker of
unpretentious two-reelers makes a comedy star of the girl from the
deli. She leaves him, citing artistic differences, then returns,
before dying tragically young. The ending here is re-written – she
lives on in celluloid form – but it's still pretty bleak.
Church and his team [MD Robert Scott and choreographer Stephen Mear]
package the show so attractively, and their
cast is so strong, that the flaws and the rough edges are almost
the action is often played against a backdrop of moving pictures;
there's a nice rail-car scene with perspective vanishing point.
Ball brings a welcome
warmth to Mack Sennett, though
this is not a likeable man, despite
his burning desire to make the world laugh; he brings
his inimitable vocal technique to the big numbers. We see him first
as a broken, bankrupt old man; in flashback we see his struggle to
bring slapstick to the silent screen, and his chemistry with
Rebecca LaChance's lovely Mabel Normand.
support from the company, including Jack Edwards' Fatty [Arbuckle]
and Anna-Jane Casey's charismatic hoofer Lottie. The showy production
number, Tap Your Troubles Away, and the fantastic Keystone Cops
sequence, though neither of them central to the story, both lend
a big-stage sparkle to a flawed but fascinating musical homage to the
early days of Hollywood.