In flashback, Paul Jesson’s immigrant LA mogul (now Maurice Montgomery, then Motl Mendl) relives the moments when, at the dawn of the 20th century, he returned to his Eastern European shtetl, inherited a cinematograph and fell in love with both the possibilities of images that moved and his photogenic assistant.

Events are tied up a little too tidily – and the characters tend to the stereotypic. But Wright comes up with some entertaining explanations of the origins of continuity, cutting and close-ups, and, as black and white images are projected overhead, it’s hard to resist the frustrated enthusiasm of young Motl (Damien Molony) as he discovers the possibilities of an emergent art form and, in true Hollywood fashion, clashes with his backer, Jacob. 

Lyttelton at the National, South Bank, SE1 9PX
Tube: Waterloo
in rep until 2nd June
£12 – £45

– Louise Kingsley