Theatre review: Mack and Mabel at Scarborough YMCA

editorial image

From the grainy, black and white film reel introduction to the tender finale this UK Foundation for Dance show is special.

It boasts one of the best performances on the Scarborough stage this year – from Josephine Pimm as troubled film star Mabel Normand – in a perfectly paced love story directed by Tim Tubbs.

The atmosphere of the movie studios is lovingly recreated as the backdrop to the romance between comedy director Mack Sennett and the waitress Normand he turned into a star.

Sleaze and scandal, including murder and drug addiction – surrounded them and their cohorts – including Fatty Arbuckle – but while not glossed over this is not Trainspotting or the Black Dahlia.

It’s a musical and about the tunes and few people write a show-stopper like Herman. Here, there’s a score-ful belted out from across the footlights by the support cast and chorus.

They include Big Time, Make the World Laugh, Hundreds of Girls, When Mabel Comes in the Room and Tap Your Troubles Away. For a dark musical there are some joyous moments.

To the leads, Mark Grayshan is suitably gruff and grumpy as Sennett and excels in his solo I Won’t Send Roses - possibly one of the best anti-love songs ever written.

Josephine Pimm is the shining star of the show. As Mabel she is at times coquettish, comedic, sexy and tragic.

She delights in Look What Happened to Mabel as her career takes off and then plunges you into despair in her closing number Time Heals Everything (but loving you).

The closing moments sung to Happy Ending – which is anything but – are heart-breaking.

Support cast never put a foot wrong in a show that makes you smile one moment and puts a lump in your throat the next.

It is on at the YMCA, St Thomas Street, Scarborough, on Friday November 1 and Saturday November 2 at 7.30pm