I was a bit leery about Mojo. I didn’t know anything about the play, didn’t have the time to look it up and the cast was a bunch of very famous TV- and movie-actors who could or could not be good on a stage. It smacked a bit like stunt casting. Then I read raving reviews and got even more nervous. And while waiting to be let into the theatre I asked one of the ushers: Is it as good as they say? and she said: It’s even better.
Well, I’m happy to report: she was right.
The story spans two days in the lives of six guys, not very successfully running and working in a nightclub in London, trying to get famous, trying to get the best act on stage – in their case Silver Johnny who the girls love. He’s also the reason why there’s a secret meeting in the private rooms of the club – someone from the mob tries to get his hands on the new successful talent. And Sweets and Potts (Rupert Grint in his West End debut and brilliant – and Daniel Mays as his more sophisticated partner) try to listen in. Both high on pills and not very bright in the first place they can’t make out what this is all about – just: it’s bad.
And it is bad indeed, as the boss of the club is found in the back alley of the club… dead in the bins – in two bins, in fact – the next morning. Partner Mickey (Brendan Coyle and so very very different than in his downton part thank god) takes over as he tells Baby (Ben Whishaw, yes he was good) that his father had died. Baby, it turns out, is more than just a bit crazy and has it in for the club’s waiter Skinny (Colin Morgan. I am so glad he does theatre now) whom he razzes mercilessly as Skinny has the hots for him. And Silver Johnny has disappeared.
Cooped up in the empty club the remaining five are getting more and more paranoid, nervous and dangerous, with no food, no drugs nor explanations and only insecurities left. Skinny is sent off to buy a gun and comes back with a tiny Derringer, the dialogue gets weirder and more bizarre by the moment, then Baby disappeares as well. But when he comes back he has not only found his father’s killer, but also Silver Johnny and he fights to get revenge, his place in the world, his life on track. There’s a gunshot from the tiny Derringer and rather unceremoniously Skinny, the boy who just doesn’t wanna be grabbed by his balls any longer as he might want kids one day, dies.
The play has the most hilarious moments, when the clueless guys try to make sense of things they do not understand. It is also a rather nostalgic glance back into the 60ies, when dumps like the club in question were apparently everywhere in London. It even shines a harsh light onto the music business that doesn’t seem to have changed that much in recent years. It’s a great show and to see these actors give it their all is a joy. Go, watch, it just got extended. You’d miss something brilliant otherwise!