(P)review: Mojo, Harold Pinter

“I promise not to squeeze your nuts”

So I’m trying the preview thing again, talking about a show that has just opened rather than reviewing it per se, offering more of an overview and little tidbits that will hopefully whet the appetite of people keen to know more about the show, without giving too much away. Press night is 13th November.

Much of theatre marketing has long been about putting bums on seats and so posters for shows up and down the land often feature ‘im or ‘er off the telly front and centre, hoping that a bit of canny casting will draw in interested audiences. The West End of course has a little more pulling power and so for this first major revival of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo, the cast of six includes some high-wattage ‘im off that thing, including

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The play was written in 1995 for the Royal Court and was a considerable success for Butterworth and director Ian Rickson, a relationship that went on to create theatrical behemoth Jerusalem. Set in 1950s Soho, it centres on the would-be gangsters of the Atlantic Club, a group of employees jockeying for position in the burgeoning rock’n’roll scene. It’s a mordantly black comedy, though not quite as funny as the first night audience seemed to find it (apparently determined to laugh at anything, no matter how disturbingly dark) and a richly evocative piece of writing. The website describes it as a modern classic, though I’d argue the second act is far too sprawlingly ambitious.

In terms of the production (don’t click on the links if you don’t want to be mildly spoiled) there’s one of these, a bit of this, somebody aping these moves, and a whole bag of this. I haven’t been able to track down too much supporting material for the play, perhaps more will come in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, rehearsal pics can be found here (though they bear little resemblance to the reality of the play); Rupert Grint spoke to the Evening Standard here; and playwright Jez Butterworth has given a great interview to The Arts Desk which is worth your full attention. And below is the briefest of notes on the acting ensemble.

Brendan Coyle 

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Having only ever seen one episode of Downton, I have had limited exposure to Mr Coyle but he is clearly good at evoking sinisterly calm demeanours, here he’s the cannily ambitious Mickey.

Ben Whishaw 

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A second stage outing for this actor and one, thankfully, a million miles away from Peter and Alice of which I was no fan, as Baby is a much more interesting role and one suited to his mercurial strengths.

Rupert Grint 

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A theatrical debut for this most ginger of actors and a wise choice of role, as it isn’t necessarily too far a stretch, but one that allows him to generate a likeable stage persona.

Colin Morgan 

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Now that Merlin has finished, Morgan has been free to stretch his thespian wings a little – a summer at the Globe is followed here by a strongly defined performance as Skinny.

Daniel Mays 

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Perhaps ironically, given that Mays is the least heralded of the five main actors here at least in TV celebrity terms, his Potts feels like the dominant role in the ensemble, an indication of his undoubted stage presence. To be honest, he’s an actor I’m not too fond of and I tend to feel like I’m seeing the same performance from him every time (Potts could definitely be related to his character from The Same Deep Water)


Tom Rhys Harries

No gifs for this actor sadly so you’ll have to make do with a simple picture. Without giving too much away, one hopes that he is fully prepared for the arduous demands of his role – two show days will be a killer!


And as should be in life, the last word is left to the Dowager

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Gifs borrowed with love from HarrypottergifMerlin-gifs, FuckyesDowntonAbbey and here


Running time: programme states 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval) but the reality of first preview was more like 2 hours 50 minutes so some trimming to be done.
Booking until 25th January

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