Tie Her To The Tracks! A Live Silent Film gives the audience a chance to see a play set against a film backdrop.
The audience were welcomed by Adam Mckenzie to a country town hall in 1917, the time of King George V, to experience the new medium of film.
I thought that Mckenzie was also supposed to provide incidental characters and visual effects, but some teething problems may have disrupted this. Regardless, he and Sammy J (later providing the live musical accompaniment) did a reasonable job of stretching while problems were resolved.
As we’re in 1917, the story was uncomplicated, featuring a simple-natured hero (Andrew McClelland), a villain (Asher Treleaven), and the heroine (Celia Pacquola). The actors perform well in synchronising with the film footage and managing costume changes.
A nod towards modern sensibilities gives opportunities for humour. Fun was had relating attitudes towards tobacco and “King and Country” patriotism during The Great War. Pacquola seemed to enjoy being more than the typical damsel in distress. Moustached Treleaven is quite reminiscent of Terry Thomas’s bounders (in films such as Those Magnificient Men in Their Flying Machines) and he milks his role of scoundrel here. His lanky frame is an asset, but the smallish room means that the screen is not set very high, so frequently the dialogue frames of the silent film are at least partially blocked. This didn’t seem to upset the reception on the review night however. I suspect the higher chairs at the rear of the room may afford a better view.
The film footage enables good visual gags and writer/director McClelland shows admirable discipline in keeping this to 30 minutes, avoiding the risk of diluting the jokes.
With Aussie comedy successfully trying something different here, maybe some patriotism is warranted after all. God save the King!