Review: Has Harlow Theatre company still got it’s Mojo?

Lifestyle / Thu 31st Mar 2016 am31 10:50am

Mojo: Review

HARLOW Theatre Company’s production of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo presents a largely strong cast in depicting this 1950s Soho-set thriller.
Silver Johnny is the leading star of the decadent Atlantic Club in Soho, but goes missing with his manager, and owner of the club, found cut in half in the bins outside. His employees remain inside, terrified at the prospect of joining their former boss. Whilst potential customers begin to queue outside, the four of them mull over what – if anything is best to do – whilst critiquing their catering options and launching at each other’s throats.

Jane Miles has created a pacey – yet running at 2 hours and 40 minutes – and intriguing version of the black comedy, littered with snippets of 1950s rock and roll songs, with a vibrant set design from Paul Johnson. At times the set changes can feel clunky, especially in the first half, as the curtains are brought to a close in front of us, but the set provides an interesting back drop to the overall narrative.

Mitch Rous was sleazy and well physicalized as Potts, with Martin Colton as Sweets, his pill-providing accomplice. Joe Bishop was Baby, son of the dead club owner, and performed his role with a deep level of psychological understanding. He paced the stage with calculating movement and preyed upon the weak Skinny, played by Rhys Hayes. Steve Hannam’s Mickey attempted to cast his authority over the others throughout, but was scuppered by a defining revelation from Oliver Page’s Silver Johnny.
Butterworth’s writing style is intriguing and has earned him numerous awards for his work, however at times the lines were delivered with little certainty, and at the wrong times.

The characters also seemed oddly comfortable in remaining in a room with two bins full of body parts, whilst Skinny’s death towards the end of the play also appeared flat in comparison to the tension filled moment one would expect.
The play was funny – “He’s fucking cut in half. He’s in two bins!” – and worked hard to ensure the play avoided becoming a festering of shouting matches, instead embracing the skill of crescendo well.

The thrilling conclusion of this darkly funny play, coupled with some good acting, particularly from Joe Bishop, ensured a pleasant evening exposing the collision between 1950s rock and roll and gang violence.

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