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[转贴]Theatre review: Mojo  

2013-11-14 00:11:36|  分类: MOJO |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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by abigailchandler:

I often think that it’s more useful for budding playwrights to watch a flawed play than a perfect one. If you can spot where the play went wrong, you know what to avoid in your own work.

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Mojo is a flawed play. It was written by Jez Butterworth, one of the best playwrights of his generation, sure, but he was only 24 at the time. It’s an immensely accomplished and assured piece for a young writer, but it’s not perfect. Butterworth’s ear for dialogue and voices was already impressively acute, but the plotting is all over the place and the play loses its way towards the end. The play also boasts only one character who feels fully fleshed out: The fascinating, irreparably damaged Baby. Potts and Sweets are certainly enjoyable characters, with their rapid-fire patter, but there’s no depth or history to them. They’re essentially a Greek chorus, or the eyes of the audience. Skinny is an interesting mix of victim and antagonist, but doesn’t have quite enough to do.

Luckily for this production, the cast go a long way to paper over the cracks in the script.

There’s very little Brendan Coyle can do with the under-written Mickey, and Tom Rhys Harries is essentially a cameo role as Silver Johnny, but despite his small amount of stage time, he manages to suggest a history just as damaged as Baby’s.

Daniel Mays has the scene-stealing role of Potts, hoovering up all the best lines and projecting a loose-limbed, shambolic, nervy charisma. His comic timing is excellent and he is hugely impressive in the role. However, you can’t help but think that the role isn’t much of a stretch for him. Rupert Grint will receive the same ‘nothing new’ criticism as Mays, despite his very assured stage debut. His Sweets has the look of a baggy-skinned kid off sick from school, and is endearingly naive - or perhaps just stupid. Grint and Mays play well off each other, speeding their way though the play on Sweets’ mum’s diet pills.

The two most surprising performances come from the actors playing solidly against type: Ben Whishaw and Colin Morgan. Morgan trashes his likeable persona by playing the spineless, whiny Skinny with a jutting jaw and an accent that hurts the ear. You almost don’t blame Baby for bullying him so mercilessly. It’s a shame Butterworth didn’t expand on the character - his relationships with Baby and Mickey are intriguingly disturbing but never developed.

Ben Whishaw, as you might expect, steals the show. He plays almost unrecognisably against type, transforming himself completely into the taut, psychopathic Baby. You spend every scene waiting for the inevitable snap, and for Baby to lose it again. But Whishaw keeps you guessing - you never know when that snap is going to lead to a murderous rage or a song and dance routine. He’s brilliant, never losing the audience’s sympathy no matter how crazy he’s behaving. He is achingly damaged and childlike one moment, a strutting bastard the next.

The cast are never less than compelling, and as a chance to see Whishaw and Mays, in particular, at the top of their game, then this is pretty unmissable. But not even this starry cast can stop the play from leaving you a little unfulfilled. If only Butterworth could do a little re-write to fix the mistakes his younger self made.


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