Review of Mojo (Major Spoilers)
When I mentioned at the end of chapter 10 that I was going to see Colin Morgan perform in the play Mojo on Thursday 12 December, I received many messages asking me to relay my experience and review the play. I thought it was easier to do in this format.
If you are intending to go and don't want explicit spoilers or are not interested, turn away now. This is just my personal opinion and interpretation of the play and performances, others may differ from me.
In a nutshell: I enjoyed it immensely and Colin's performance was spellbinding. All the actors were excellent. The show was very physical with much shouting, posturing, and running around. There was a boundless energy from the cast, making it exhausting but wonderful to watch.
We travelled down to London on the train and, despite some reservations, public transport came up trumps - our journey was smooth and without incident. Arriving at Euston, we walked to the Harold Pinter Theatre, arriving in plenty of time for the 2:30 matinee. It was relatively easy to find, with only the last 100m proving difficult and requiring GPS. The theatre is a lovely, ornate building tucked into a side street and its petite appearance (long, thin, and beautifully formed – much like our favourite actor) extends to the inside as well as the outside. It's cosy, the decor is plush with gilded friezes on the walls. The seats are snug, being better suited to hobbits than those of the 5'9 persuasion but,having said that, they were comfortable and afforded an excellent view of the stage. Photos were forbidden; there were officious-looking staff at regular intervals reprimanding anyone who dared to produce a camera. I could have surreptitiously tried to sneak some pictures but my phone would have only produced fuzzy images and I would have felt bad doing it.
So onto the play: There are probably better synopses available on the internet but I will do my best to summarise.
It is a black comedy. The setting is 1950's Soho in the east end of London. The world of gangsters and their hierarchy is explored against the backdrop of drugs and rock and roll.
The cast includes:
Sweets Rupert Grint
Potts Daniel Mays
Baby Ben Whishaw
Skinny Colin Morgan
Mickey Brendan Cole
And Silver Johnny Tom Rhys Harries
There are references to the characters of Ezra and Sam Ross.
The production is fast-paced and action packed; the dialogue has a distinctive rhythm and flow but is peppered with expletives and slang – reflecting the people and the product of that culture. The audience is presented with a startling and somewhat confusing picture at first and it's only as the play progresses that more pieces of the jigsaw are provided and the characters and their motivation develop so by the end it all makes sense.
Act one is upstairs in Ezra's Atlantic club.
The play starts with Silver Johnny, who is an up-and-coming teen idol who looks set to make the gang a fortune and is being managed by Ezra. Negotiations are in place with rival gang lord Sam Ross. Gophers, Sweets and Potts, wait outside popping pills and anticipating the glory days ahead whilst being both awed and terrified of the gang leaders. We are then introduced to the rest of the pill-popping gang members; the unstable and psychotic son of Ezra, Baby, and Colin Morgan's character Skinny. There is bad blood between the two; Skinny protests that Baby picks on him and attacks him whilst Baby resents Skinny stealing his style and making anti-Semitic comments. Things come to a head with accusations of cheating in a card game and ultimately lead to the infamous scene where Skinny is tied to a jukebox with his trousers round his ankles whilst Baby wields a sword; running around topless making lurid and intimidating advances against the bound man (yes, Colin Morgan's legs are on show here. He has the physique of a marathon runner, all stretched skin over taut muscle and sinew. Not an ounce of fat is anywhere to be seen and prominent blood vessels abound on his long limbs).
The fun and games are interrupted when Mickey (the ambitious second in command) turns up and tells them their boss – Baby's father - has been murdered, chopped up and left in two bins outside. Their lifeline Silver Johnny has gone and it looks like they are facing a takeover by Sam Ross. Baby responds to the news of his father's demise by singing rock and roll.
Act two: The downstairs of the club (explicit story spoilers).
There is grappling for leadership between the self-appointed Mickey and Ezra's son Baby. Mickey wants to hole up and wait for the fight to come to them – sending Skinny out for weapons. Whilst Baby wants to retaliate, find Silver Johnny and exact revenge. There is a lot of infighting as the gang wait it out in the club, tension rises and loyalties are divided. Baby's behaviour becomes more unstable and Mickey uses it as an excuse to tell Baby to leave; the cause is championed by Skinny.
Baby leaves and the remaining members sleep upstairs, scared by what is to come. They are disturbed in the night when Baby returns. He is not alone, but has Silver Johnny with him - hung from the ceiling. It would appear Baby sought out Sam Ross, murdered him with the sword and retrieved the prize. In doing so he discovers they have been betrayed by Mickey who set up the whole plan – fed up with Ezra's lack of vision. Baby is mad and when Skinny jumps to Mickey's defence Baby shoots him. Skinny dies (very dramatic death scene – well played). The gang are in shock. Mickey collapses, broken, Potts and Sweets run away, and a shaken Silver Johnny and Baby leave. The play ends. Applause.
So there you have it – a very impactful performance by all and, although it was a black comedy, by the end it was tragic. All the actors were excellent and Colin Morgan shows once again what a versatile actor he is. His character bore no relation to Merlin in any shape or form, his voice and mannerisms were different and he managed to make someone who was not partially likeable as a person bolshie, yet vulnerable and mesmerising. Despite his shallow persona the audience did care about Skinny and his fate.
That's my humble opinion. Hope you enjoyed the review.
Thanks to Caldera who checked it over for me.
Hope you did not mind the spoilers - you were warned.