Mojo Harold Pinter Theatre, London - until 25th January 2014. Review by Carmen Paddock
Excited anticipation was overwhelmingly present in the Harold Pinter Theatre. This was the first major revival of Mojo since its original 1996 Olivier award-winning run, and the new cast promised brilliant ensemble acting: Brendan Coyle (Downtown Abbey), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter), Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), and Colin Morgan (Merlin) joined stage veteran Daniel Mays and newcomer Tom Rhys Harries. Despite the hype, the show did not disappoint.
The intelligent, fast-paced script makes for a thrilling piece. The action is set in 1958 Soho, where the mob-run club Atlantic has become the hottest place in town after picking up the new rock n’ roll star, Silver Johnny. After the two bosses refuse to sell their prize act – and one wild night of drug-induced inattentiveness – Silver Johnny disappears but one of the two bosses is discovered murdered. The plot is then driven forward by the survivor’s conflicting bids for attention, power, and pure survival. Laughter alternates with terrifying intensity, and the ambiguous ending leaves the question of comedy or tragedy up to the audience.
Silver Johnny is barely seen on stage, but Harries captures the teenage rock star persona well. Brendan Coyle plays Mickey, the surviving mob boss. His ability to command the entire stage by his silent presence is captivating – especially considering the crazy antics of his fellow performers. Coyle never lets audience or other characters see much Mickey’s emotional life, which makes him less relatable but infinitely more intimidating. Colin Morgan is Skinny, the club’s cloakroom attendant who earns respect from Mickey as the play progresses. He keeps the role’s inherent comedy whilst never losing his humanity, making his character’s journey all the more poignant.
The show-stealer is Ben Whishaw as Baby, the abused son of the murdered boss. It is clear from the start that Baby is chillingly volatile, charismatic, arrogant, and desperately seeking validation. His magnetic charm and horrible past make one hope for the best, and yet it is impossible to fully sympathise with his violent, quasi-psychotic outbursts. Whishaw’s performance is riveting.
Mojo would be merely a brilliant character showcase if not for Daniel Mays and Rupert Grint as Potts and Sweets, the club’s upstairs functionaries. Their lightning-quick repartee and dynamic physical acting keep the stage pulsing with energy and hold the play together, delivering key background information, adding laughter (however black and bitter) to the most shiver-inducing scenes, and uniting all clashing motivations into a single plot. Mays’s superb diction, comic timing, and over-the-top physicality mark him as a seasoned actor in top form. Although Grint, making his stage debut, is notably less experienced, he keeps up admirably and never lets his partner down.
I did ask this question when I went to see the play, since we got that question before.
So, If you want to give something (a letter, a present,…) to the actors, you can go to the stage door. Go a little bit inside and there will be a person waiting there. You can give it to the person and then he/she will put it in the “mailbox” of that actor. Every actor has a differen mailbox and so give it to the stage door and your favourite will get it ;)
HOW ONE EXPLAINS MOJO?
Seriously I felt in love with it.
I laughed, cried from laugher, felt literally sick by the end of the play because of Morgan’s echoing voice.
Colin Morgan, you genius. I saw him in Parked and Island and I already thought that he was a great actor but seriously… Skinny Luke? GOLD.
Daniel Mays is just incredible, I felt in love with his acting; plus he’s an awesome nice person.
Actually EVERY SINGLE ACTOR WAS AMAZING
The beginning of the play – dear Tom Rhys Harries, you are GREAT, and that dance you made…!
Everything, the music, staging, everything was perfect in my opinion.
I read the script and god I was not disappointed a bit.
The chemistry between Morgan/Whishaw – I won’t even say a thing because seriously I have no word. Just, juke, that’s all I’ll say.
So now let’s talk about Whishaw’s voice, I need to talk about that, I mean HIS FUCKING CROONER VOICE, ‘teenage crush’ is in my head since sat. night and it felt like this song is going to be the death of me very soon. Also, ‘Yaketi yak’, these hysterical laughs he made during the song, GOD. I always thought you should play a real psycho (well some people say Grenouille was already one but not in my opinion); you are mesmerizing, inspiring, so talented, and, please, I hope you’re aware of that because you’re a so kind beautiful person.
Also, Baby’s monologue at the end.
You’ll always be my genius.
For everyone who’s going to experience the play soon, enjoy it because it is truly phenomenal.
I wish I could make a real review of the play but since I’m French…
KISS MY PEGS
(note: he calls ben whishaw “schwing”- might make his ‘reviews’ make more sense)
Couldn’t stop laughing. Guess which one is Colin Morgan.