Mojo

Tue 9th – Sat 13th May 2017

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 20:53 on 10th May 2017

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Mojo is an overwhelming fever-dream of a play; funny and scary in equal measure it starts black and gets far blacker. Following a group of men involved in the running of a nightclub, it drags the audience on a destabilising, sometimes confusing, always completely entertaining journey through surreal visions, hilarious and rapid-fire dialogue, and fantastically uninhibited dancing. Mojo is one of the best plays I've seen in Cambridge, and is certainly worth popping your head above the revision trench for. Grab tickets now - they won't last long.

The cast of this ensemble piece deserve twofold praise in that they managed to work together wonderfully, but also all created individual performances which were very convincing, entertaining and memorable, and which merit individual mention. Harry Redding as Sweets and Sophie Taylor as Potts were a charming double act who opened the show, and provided a sympathetic framework for the audience to cling to as things got progressively weirder. Taylor played, to an extent, the straight man of the partnership, although the trope only fits this duo to a limited extent, Pott's heavy drug-use made him vulnerable to more than a few bracingly fast and disordered tirades, which Taylor delivered wonderfully, and which were often very funny. Redding had a more childlike, innocent quality, always the last to notice, always the last to understand the joke. Plus, he introduced the immortal line: "I am calm, I'm talking."

Benedict Clarke was great as Mickey, the self-appointed boss of the club. Although Mickey is initially hard to pin down, his character bears close watching, as there is more to him than meets the eye. This meant that Clarke's performance looked better and better as time went on - all the stuff he'd been gesturing towards started to be revealed to the audience.

Sabian Phippen delivered a great performance as the long suffering Skinny, victim of the increasingly strange atmosphere within the club. Phippen is particularly skilled at looking terrified and aghast, and although his character had plenty of reason to display both of those emotions, his brilliant facial expressions brought a lot of humour to the production.

In spite of having the least time onstage of any cast members, Christian Hines made a great impression on the audience as shiny-jacketed man-child Silver Johnny. His spirited dance sequence at the opening of the play dominated the stage, and his largely wordless reappearance towards the end brought one of the biggest laughs of the show.

Emma Corrin's performance as Baby was breathtaking, and entirely free from any self-consciousness about embodying the full weirdness of the character. Everything, from his slinking walk to the oily habit he had of rubbing together the fingers of one hand was minutely observed, and made the character both deeply unpredictable, and oddly magnetic.

Set design, lighting and the four-piece band were all used to great effect. The club was vividly yet simply evoked through two sets, representing back and front-of-house with a good dose of shabby sleaziness. The house was lit with powerful red spotlights as the audience entered, and I was initially a little nonplussed by these, mostly because I was sitting directly under one and it made my eyes feel funny. This reservation melted away as the play started however: it wasn't just my eyes feeling funny. The band were great throughout, but their golden moment came at the close of the play when amplifiers and distortion were ramped up to painful, (literally) screaming levels. The ending was in all senses uncompromising, and therefore deeply satisfying

If Mojo won't make you forget the woes of revision term, nothing will. With an idiosyncratic and always entertaining script, a rock-solid cast, and a great production all working in harmony, I have no doubt this play will stand out among the term's offerings. Not to be missed.

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