Also pretty darn good is the new revival of Jez Butterworth's breakthrough play Mojo which, to my knowledge, has never crossed the Atlantic but, with the success of the same playwright’s Jerusalem, may well travel now. Like Jerusalem, Mojo is a “state of England” play, a close look at an even smaller canvas, the underbelly of petty criminals in a seedy bar in London’s Soho in the mid-1950s. Against a backdrop of the development of rock ‘n’ roll and the emergence of the teenager as a separate entity from either adults or children, the explosion that would become British rock, leading eventually to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, was breaking out in many directions. Dozens of these small bars hosted any kid who wandered in with a guitar and wanted to sing. What had been big business controlled by record companies became a local affair with every dead-beat trying to make a quid from the few really talented boys (and they were all boys) who showed up.
Mojo gives us a perfectly-cast assortment of these young hangers-on, a performer called Silver Johnny, and an older sinister bar manager (Brendan Coyle, whom American viewers will know at Mr Bates in “Downton Abbey”) on one shocking Sunday on which their boss is murdered and they are cast adrift on their own slim resources. The only other actor who would likely be known to American audiences is Rupert Grint, finally shucking off all traces of “Harry Potter” and giving a finely nuanced performance as Sweets, the most easily-led of an easily-led bunch. Ben Whishaw is magnificent as the psychotic son of the murdered owner and Daniel Mays and Colin Morgan are both extraordinary as teenage employees of the bar, with hopeless aspirations in the nascient rock world. […]
98/100 Colin Morgan