12-24 October 2015
Reviewed by Linzi Davies
Myself and my friend Louise headed into Manchester to watch the musical Mac & Mabel at the Opera House, which was her mums all time favourite. I was a little in the dark if I’m honest because prior to attending I had absolutely no idea what the show was about. We parked at the NCP carpark on Charles Street, roughly a mile walk from the theatre which offered an extremely reasonable tariff for the evening’s entertainment, only £2 from 4pm until Midnight. Definitely one for future visits as long as you are wearing comfortable shoes!
On arrival we were met at the press desk by a lovely lady who located our tickets, stalls J28 & J29. We made our way to our seats which were just to the left of the stage and offered a fantastic view. After a short wait, the band struck the first chords from the gods and launched into an instrumental repertoire of the songs which we could look forward to, a taster for the foot tapping, hand clapping group celebrating a birthday in the row behind us, her fifth time of seeing the show. It must be good……
The show was set beginning in 1911 and concluding in February 1938, the main character Mack Sennett, a small time 2 reel film producer with some very big and fixed ideas. During one particular shoot, the extremely pretty and vulnerable Mabel Normand walked into his life, the local waitress destined to become an overnight success. The story cleverly switched between the here and now and the past as illustrated by Sennett’s monologues and the actors breathtaking singing and dance routines.
The show oozed professionalism and character and although I have no real knowledge of the era of silent movies, I was enveloped in its realism and strength of feelings portrayed. Michael Ball, known for a variety of West End leads and also his flourishing music and radio career suited his role perfectly, he was as charismatic as he was egocentric and blended so well with Rebecca LaChance as Mabel. Their on off love affair was conducted within a relatively small stage area which magically came alive with the innovative use of screen and backdrops to create a moving train and a liner sailing on the river, majestic.
The second half began where the first left off, a now highly successful actress Mabel returns to Sennett productions after five years making real films with the main rival to Mack, Mabel is more savvy, opinionated and no longer a counting push over. Mack however still fails to recognise how his behaviours impact on the relationship and Mabel once again slips away leaving Mack to his dubious slapstick comedy, keystone cops and bathing beauties. If I had one criticism during this particularly time in current affairs, the line referring to wanting to murder a cop, in my opinion should have been removed in respect of a Merseyside Officer who tragically lost his life only a week ago.
For those who haven’t seen the show, I don’t want to spoil the ending. It’s safe to say, it may not be as one would expect. Dry eyes were not easily found within the audience. The show runs until the 24th October and it is without a doubt worthy of a trip.
Tickets cost from £20 to £72.50 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Mack & Mabel is at the Opera House in Manchester until 24 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3018.
Opera House Manchester. 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP | 0844 871 3018