‘Mack And Mabel’ Saturday Night Review

Dear Cast and Crew of Mack And Mabel,

Imagine this if you can: your friends have been planning an amazing dinner for some months. It’s going to be fish of some kind, maybe haddock or plaice, with some rumours saying it might even be something really glamorous like king salmon. Their descriptions of it are mouth-watering: you simply can’t wait to get down there and dig in, such is the excitement they’ve kicked up about it.

But then you turn up and, not only is the dinner not cooked, the fish is still in the goddamn sea.

That’s what seeing ‘Mack And Mabel’ was like on Wednesday night. It was not just undercooked, it was like watching the fishermen trying to find out where the fish was (the fish is a metaphor for the script – I might drop the analogy now). As such my review was average.

So it’s with genuine delight that I can say you really showed me what for on Saturday. I came back suspecting you might turn the ship around, and you more than did that. Where previously you were slow, half-hearted and uncertain, you were now exploding with energy, never leaving the audience a moment to collect its breath before shooting for the next line, scene or dance move. The funny moments were funnier, the sad moments were sadder, the dancing was slick and precise, the relationships were believable, the acting was unbelievable (as it were) and the show, overall, was outstanding.

I have never seen a show get so much better in such a short amount of time. In fact I find it hard to believe Wednesday was part of the same production.

I also find it hard to believe I was watching the same actor play Mack Sennett. James Stevens frankly put my words to shame; all of a sudden he was big, bold and confident, throwing the emotion he needed into every line and being more than the monomaniac Mack is supposed to be. I am not being disingenuous when I say I was astounded; and maybe a little bit red faced about the fact that at least some of it was one almighty middle finger to doubters like me. Again, I’ve never seen a performance turn around so hard and so fast.

The reason I’m compelled to write this, by the way, is not in the slightest bit to apologise. My first review was still positive – it was still three stars – but it suffered because you were clearly unready. I’m writing it because the way you turned it around was utterly remarkable. As your friend, as a critic, as a fellow musical lover and so on, I wanted you guys to knock my socks off the way I knew you could. And you did – and you obviously loved doing it!

Of course the flaws were still there, but they didn’t matter as much. They were all to do with the script rather than your performance.

So congratulations to all of you. You smashed it.

4 Stars.

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