MACK AND MABEL – Northern Light Theatre Company

MACK AND MABEL – Northern Light Theatre Company

Reviewed by Kerry Cooper


October 2016

Mack and Mabel follows the career of Mack Sennett, a silent movie director and his tumultuous relationship with one of his starlets Mabel Normand. Based on the book by Michael Stewart; the plot highlights the silent-movie era when Keystone pictures was successful and Sennett was at the top of his game.
Mack Sennett is stubborn and obnoxious, but actor Michael Bates manages to capture the sentimental side that is needed for Sennett to be likeable. Experienced Bates was convincing in his role, but at times was hard to hear, with head-sets cutting out and dialogue being swallowed instead of projected. Most of the cast had this problem with audio being a problem throughout the performance.
Mabel Normand was brought to life by Jeri Williams. Her portrayal was nothing short of stunning. Williams gave the character depth, taking us on a journey from the naïve waitress to the drug addicted, lovelorn actress. Song highlights included ‘Wherever he Ain’t’ and the stunning ‘Time heals Everything’.
Key components let the production down. The set was monochromatic, which looked impressive. Large set pieces resembled film reels which were easily moved around, with old movie footage projected onto the surface. Unfortunately lighting was lacking and although the spotlights were used to create atmosphere, they were over-used and became a distraction when actors were left delivering lines in the dark.
Musical director Helen Loveday, with her talented orchestra delivered a toe-tapping score and costumes by Ann Humphries were sublime, but although director Andrew Hawkins was creative; sometimes less is more.
Photo by Mason Digital  Jeri Williams (Mabel) Michael Bates (Mack)
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