A Dukes Lancaster and Oldham Coliseum production
The Life and Times of Mitchell & Kenyon
Saturday 19 April 2014 - Saturday 10 May 2014
review by Alan Chard
I knew nothing of Mitchell & Kenyon before attending the performance at The Dukes, and had just returned from holiday, so no time to research these cinematographic pioneers in advance.
That did not matter in the least, in fact the leaflet and press release say exactly what you need to know " . . . an extravaganza - full of songs, laughter and the original films themselves."
The performance tells the story of the discovery of a treasure trove of forgotten film reels in the basement of a shop in Blackburn through to their eventual restoration. This is not a dry, factual story. Little is known about the personality of either Mitchell or Kenyon, which meant that Daragh Carville had leeway when creating the personalities of our heroes. What we see are two completely different people, brought together in a partnership that really worked. There is a great deal of imaginative telling of the story of two real pioneers of the film industry and the films they made of ordinary people living their lives in the North West of England.
The incorporation of the actual films lends an additional dimension to the performance, as does the music, songs and dance. It's hard to believe that this is brought to us by only 5 actors.
The performance held the attention of the audience every minute and I came away feeling that not only had I seen an exciting and interesting portrayal of a story, but had been educated into the bargain.
I've been inspired to spend some time researching Mitchell & Kenyon and am really surprised by the quality of the work done by the BFI National Archive and the National Fairground Archive at the University of Sheffield in bringing these images back to life.
Alan Chard, April 2014