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Review: Mojo - not the Ben Whishaw one, the one at the White Bear

Mojo-posterYes Mojo is back, back on the fringe circuit just over six months since the rather successful and starry West End production closed. I know what your thinking: I was curious. And, there has been a Mojo-sized hole in my theatre viewing since February but a fringe production? That's quite brave, so soon.

If you haven't seen Mojo before you might want head to the White Bear in Kennington (it closes this weekend so hurry), it is after all a great play even if this isn't the best production.

Unfortunately my many trips to see Mr W, Rupert Grint, Colin Morgan et al means it is indelibly inked on my memory. I spent most of the first half of this production trying to superimpose those performances onto the ones I was seeing before me.

Such familiarity meant different delivery and direction just screamed and not in a good way.

I warn you this isn't going to come out well so please no snipey comments mine is just one view and others are available.

The casting was odd. Silver Johnny (Ben Hall) was way too grown up looking and tall to play a 17-year old kid so that kind of destroys that plot line. Skinny (Max Warrick) is supposed to be mimicking Baby in looks and dress but the two were complete opposites. Skinny has short, dark hair slicked back and Baby (Luke Trebilcock) has long, blondish hair and seems to wear just trousers most of the time. Apart from the turn ups it certainly doesn't look like Skinny is copying Baby which kind of destroys that plot line.

And talking of Baby, he was very languid in his performance almost like he was stoned with just occasional moments of animation so that there was little feeling of threat. Baby needs to feel like a loose canon. He is a multi-layered character and you rarely got a sense from Trebilcock of much in the way of inner turmoil or conflict.

Jack Heath and Max Saunders Singer (Sweets and Potts) opted for gurning facial expressions as a way of being comic and mis-timed some of the key funny lines. This was no where near as funny as it can be.

It was nice being reminded of the play again but it just left me hankering to see it in a more familiar format. Instead I'm going to have to settle for the 1997 film version. I'm being overly critical, I know, forgive me, but it does beg comparison running so swiftly after my favourite production closed.

Mojo runs at the White Bear until Sep 21 and has a running time of 2 hours and 20 including an interval.

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Second thoughts review: Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan and Rupert Grint in Mojo