Monday, 6 April 2009

The silence of Paul Merton

We caught Paul Merton's Silent Clowns at Bath's Theatre Royal last night, the show where he presents a series of silent comedies from the early 20th century. It is wonderful to be reminded of the ingenuity of the silent film-makers. The 1925 Buster Keaton film Seven Chances, following the antics of a young man who has several hours to find a bride or lose a seven million dollar inheritance, is a gem (and is better than the advertised Steamboat Bill Jr, which I've seen before), as were shorter clips from Chaplin, Laurel and Hardy, and earlier French film-makers. There was some great piano-playing from Neil Brand which gave the theatre the feel of a pre-talkie cinema. But there was a some justified grumbling from the audience about how little Merton told us about the movies and movie-makers. He has undoubtedly done a great job bringing these pictures to a new audience. But he doesn't need to remain as silent as his subjects.

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