Mojo**** (Harold Pinter Theatre, 21 November 2013)

Posted: November 21, 2013 in Theatre

photo-83Soho in the late 1950s conjures fascinating images. Post War austerity was coming to an end, the Swinging Sixties were soon to begin. British society was on the cusp of monumental change and it was the era of Rock and Roll. An area of little more than a square mile in London’s West End became a vibrant melting pot where forbidden fruits could be tasted and where politicians and film stars mingled with notorious gangsters and small time crooks who had drifted over from the East End. Jez Butterworth’s vicious black comedy, first performed in 1995, is set in a seedy Dean Street music club in 1958, amidst a gangland feud between the club’s owner and a rival (neither ever appears) over the right to manage a promising Elvis clone (Tom Rhys Harries). The club’s manager (Brendan Coyle) and four staff are the main characters. Daniel Mays gives an utterly hilarious performance as the panic-stricken Sid and forms a splendid comedy double act with the unlikeliest of partners, Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) as the dim-witted Sweets. Casting against type also works brilliantly with Ben Whishaw as the psychotic Baby, son of the owner, who is always menacing whether wielding a sword or five toffee apples. He is engaged in a violent feud with the sycophantic Skinny (Colin Morgan, tv’s Merlin). This is a tip-top cast that, under Ian Rickson’s direction, gives the razor sharp dialogue the rapid fire delivery and precision timing that it needs. It is hard to imagine that this play, a minor classic of modern British theatre, could ever be performed better.

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