It was expected to be a successful reunion between two of the powerhouses from the film and theatre world. Yet the combination of the legendary actor Al Pacino and the celebrated American playwright David Mamet has not been without its share of difficulties so far. Their hook up for the Mamet play entitled “China Doll” is seemingly being undermined by the Godfather actor’s difficulties in learning his lines.

Previous successful partnership

The paths of the highly successful pairing have crossed before. Mamet adapted his Pulitzer-prize and Tony-winning play “Glengarry Glen Ross” into a 1992 film that starred Pacino and received critical acclaim, including Pacino’s Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

The veteran actor later reprised the role for a stage revival in 2012.

Technology assisting Pacino’s problems

At the grand age of 75, Pacino continues to be driven to further his distinguished career. But time eventually catches up with even a man as determined and well-respected by global film audiences as the Manhattan-born actor is.

It has been said that Pacino has resorted to being fed lines through his Bluetooth headset (which admittedly is part of his character’s persona), referring to a laptop for some lines and having as many as three on set tele-prompters in an attempt to assist his flagging memory.

Not even the technological aids that are believed to be helping the Hollywood megastar seem to be a complete success though as regards the end product.

According to Forbes, some preview attendees went so far as to ask for a refund due to failing to hear what Pacino was saying during the play.

Adverse impact of negative feedback

With social media not affording performers the luxury of claiming that “it will be alright on the night”, it is likely that those who have witnessed the preview performances so far will have plenty to say on what they have witnessed so far.

Negative feedback can spread like wildfire within such a notoriously hard to please industry, where critics often seem detached from consideration of past praise and plaudits. Even Oscar winners with more than fifty-years working in the business are not immune from their critical appraisal it seems.

Dame Judi has similarly struggled

Pacino is not alone within the acting industry in finding trouble remembering his lines as he advances in years.

The former star of the James Bond films Dame Judi Dench, now 80-years-old, admitted back in 2013 to taking “memory pills” to help with the recollection of her lines. Her own frailties also extend to failing eyesight, which makes the reading of new scripts extremely problematic. Despite all of that, she doesn’t seem keen on putting her feet up any time soon and was an Oscar nominee herself for her role in “Philomena” in 2013.

High grossing previews

Although “China Doll” is not due to begin its formal Broadway run until 19th November, there is little remaining time to iron out any teething problems. That aside, any potential for the Show to be slightly below expectation does not seem to be feeding through to initial sales. The first six previews at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre have been estimated to have grossed over $1 million, an unusually high figure for a non-musical production under the bright lights of Broadway.