Theatre Review: Travelling Light, Leeds Grand Theatre

Travelling Light
Travelling Light
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ALTHOUGH Sir Antony Sher takes top billing in this touring National Theatre production, it is man-of-the-moment Damien Moloney who is star of the show.

After making his stage debut at West Yorkshire Playhouse last year he went on to land the lead in BBC Three’s supernatural drama, Being Human, while simultaneously wowing audiences in London.

Now, Travelling Light – a tale harking back to the early days of cinema – is on the road and comes to Leeds next week.

It should not be missed, delivering as it does a relatively unusual thing in theatre these days: a simple story. Sure there are subtexts to be decoded here, but essentially this is the eternal tale of a young man’s attempts to break free from small-town life.

Sher appears as Jacob, a wealthy timber merchant in his home village who bankrolls the youthful ambitions of Moloney’s Motl Mendl, who loves all things photographic. But this is on the proviso the budding movie maker stays put in the eastern European community he was raised in.

Sher is a complete natural as Jacob and in a different league, but Moloney delivers an impressive performance which pivots on sheer exuberance.

The plot is heartening throughout, though the narrative grows increasingly cluttered and twisted towards the end. This is the solitary flaw.

Travelling Light is a play and a production of obvious quality, courtesy of Nicholas Hytner’s incomparable direction and a cast of superb actors. But, ultimately, it’s all about Damien.

Tuesday to Saturday, Leeds Grand Theatre, New Briggate, Leeds, 7.30pm, £13 to £30 Tel: 0844 8482700. www.leedsgrandtheatre.com.

Rod McPhee