This book explores a range of Angus McBean's black and white photography work from the 1930's to the 1950's during which time he documented countless landmark theatre and film productions within Britain for publicity purposes. Successfully using dramatic chiaroscuro lighting and imaginative props, McBean captured the styles and opulence of these productions. The introductory essay by Richard Traubner keeps a lively balance between the technical side of McBean's innovative approaches and his personal quirks. Featuring a number of McBean's exquisitely staged and playful surrealist montages, which have become signature images, a small number of his more formal and staid close up portraits are also included in the book.
I felt these images could have been superseded by more idiosyncratic works such as McBean's unusual self portraits which he sent to friends as Christmas cards and of which only two are included as book ends.
The reproductions are extremely sharp due to the fact that they are taken from McBean's original large format glass plate negatives, which were sold to Harvard University's Theatre Collection by the photographer in 1970. However I feel more care should have been taken on the printing process -- I found the grey tones of some of the images a little over saturated and one portrait of Noel Coward was badly solarised. Hopefully these flaws will be remedied in future print runs as the book provides a delightful insight into a golden era of publicity stills and English theatre.