RSC’s Richard II and Jez Butterworth’s Mojo: last performances and theatre as pop culture

Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint, Colin Morgan, Daniel Mays, Brendan Coyle. Photo Nigel Norrington

Ben Whishaw, Rupert Grint, Colin Morgan, Daniel Mays, Brendan Coyle. Photo Nigel Norrington

Last night was an important night in the calendar. It was the last performance of Mojo at the Harold Pinter theatre, and that would have been significant enough, but for me it was also the official end of theatrical 2013, a vintage year by all accounts. Others are articulate in analysing cutting edge trends, but what I loved about 2013 was the abundance of productions that generated feverish excitement. In the last few months of the year, London theatres were full of people bouncing from Richard II to Coriolanus, Americhan Psycho to Mojo, but also productions without major stars: The Light Princess at the National, or The Pride at Trafalgar studios. Earlier in the year, Edward II (again at the National), Macbeth at Trafalgar and the Cripple of Inishmaan at Noel Coward had similar audiences.

Not all productions had been sold out successes and some of the enthusiasm was instigated and channelled through the presence of a famous actor, but what I loved was the absence of austere and po-faced reactions. Some people took these productions to their (fannish) heart and tumblr exploded with the sublime and the ridiculous. Continue reading

What happened to the characters in Jez Butterworth’s Mojo?

You know how it is. One thing led to another and a casual conversation turned inspiration to map the future of all the characters in Jez Butterworth’s Mojo. Thanks to revstan and @emst for contributions and ill-judged encouragement.

Without permission and with sincere apologies to Jez Butterworth. References to the 2013 production at the Harold Pinter theatre, directed by Ian Rickson.

L to R: Ben Whishaw (Baby), Sweets (Rupert Grint), Skinny (Colin Morgan), Potts (Daniel Mays), Mickey (Brendan Coyle). Photo Geraint Lewis

L to R: Ben Whishaw (Baby), Sweets (Rupert Grint), Skinny (Colin Morgan), Potts (Daniel Mays), Mickey (Brendan Coyle). Photo Geraint Lewis

SPOILERS for the play. I mean it. Continue reading

Review: Jez Butterworth’s Mojo at the Harold Pinter theatre (with Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan, Rupert Grint)

mojo

“There’s nothing like having your dad cut in two to clear the brain”

Despite seeing a rehearsed reading of Jez Butterworth’s Mojo in 2006, I didn’t remember much about it before going to see Ian Rickson’s production at the Harold Pinter theatre. Which is just as well, because discovering it in this vibrant full blooded (and occasionally bloodied) production was a real pleasure. Trying to untangle its secrets and pulling at its different threads (its plot, its aesthetic, its language) is a game best enjoyed in the dark. Its backdrop, a 1950s Soho club after hours, is the perfect setting for such an enterprise.

The play, a naturalistic look at the dark heart of the Soho underworld, all wrapped as a base under siege story and a battle for succession, is sprinkled with a touch of Tarantino and is a maze hiding hope and trepidation. The language is full of riffs going further and further until you tense with fear they will drag you off the cliff. Its humour is chewed at the edges, equally funny and scary. Early on, the thumping of the music synchronises with the thumping of hearts. Thrills and fear become indistinguishable. Continue reading