actor Damien Molony is bringing the big screen to the big stage when he stars as movie-mad Motl Mendl in Travelling Light.
Damien, better known as Hal in the current series of BBC Three’s Being Human, plays the lead role in Nicolas Wright’s new play – a humorous tribute to the Eastern European immigrants who became major players in Hollywood’s golden age.
Travelling Light, set in a remote Lithuanian village in the early 1900s, tells the story of how Motl stumbles on a revolutionary way of storytelling and becomes a famous American film director.
Nicholas Hytner’s production was first performed in January at the National Theatre and is being brought to Leeds Grand Theatre with its original cast at the end of the month.
Damien told The Guide: “It’s a lovely play and beautifully written - it’s a very gentle, sweet story.
“Motl is a young journalist with no real direction in his life and he goes back home because his dad has just passed away.
“Just before his dad dies he receives a new movie camera – he sees it and is blown away. He realises this is what he is supposed to do with his life.
“He has big plans of being this artistic movie maker and feels that the village is dragging him down.
“It’s a love story with a young guy who’s really fed up with rural life and wants to be famous.”
While the story is largely fictional, it also covers the difficulties of a time when aspiring Jewish actors were leaving Eastern Europe and changing their names to live the American dream.
Motl’s tale unwinds when as a director he looks back 40 years on his journey to get there, and confronts the costs of fulfilling his dreams.
Damien said: “He becomes so obsessed with this movie making that everything else suffers as a result of that, and he has trouble in his love life and with his family.
“He is very driven and extremely ambitious.
“But he suffers a lot of frustration about being stuck in a village where he feels that he’s better than everybody else.
“And there’s a sadness about that because it’s where he’s from, and where all his family is.
“There’s a little bit of arrogance but nothing that he intends – he’s just blown away by this camera and the possibilities of it.
“He thinks that he’s going to go to Hollywood and show them how to make artistic films, he really thinks it’s an art form, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite turn out that way for him.”
Damien and other Travelling Light actors will be hosting a question and answer session after the second showing, for people to give their views on the play.
Damien added: “It’s a not a play that stabs you in the eyeballs, it’s so gentle and soft and it really seems to have mesmerised people. It’s great when people come to you with an opinion because you can see that it’s made them think.”
Travelling Light is at Leeds Grand Theatre from March 20-27, with evening performances at 7.30pm and matinees at 2.30pm on Thursday March 22 and Saturday March 24.
The question and answer session will be held after the evening performance on Wednesday March 21.
Tickets cost between £13 and £30 and are available from www.leedsgrandtheatre.com or by calling the box office on 0844 8482705.