Theatre on Fire opens its seventh season at the Charlestown Working Theater with the rock n' roll
rhythm of MOJO.
Winner of the Laurence Olivier, Evening Standard and George Devine Awards when it premiered at The Royal Court Theatre in London in 1995, MOJO premiered Off-Broadway in 1997 in a production by the Atlantic Theater Company.
MOJO pulls back the filmy curtain on Ezra's Atlantic, a seedy Soho clubland bar in 1958, just as a wave of American rock n' roll music is driving London's youth crazy. New singing sensation Silver Johnny's success could be the big break for two dead-end, pill-popping bar hands if they play their cards right. But before they can dream what to do with all the money they'll make, the club owner turns up dead, Silver Johnny disappears, the second in command takes over and a power struggle ensues with the owner's son. Under siege in the club and going through the uppers and downers filched from pocketbooks, this band of losers must try to figure out who killed the boss and survive the weekend. Filled with the raw energy of early rock n' roll, MOJO is a high-tension,
high-speed menacing comedy in the Pinter tradition.
TOF is upping the volume of this production by adding a live rock band into the mix. [Band name] will play songs from the golden age of rock n' roll - including tracks from Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry and more - during pre-show and intermission, in addition to providing original music during the show. The pre-show concert begins at 7:30pm.
Jez Butterworth is the writer of the hit play Jerusalem, which recently ended its successful and extended Broadway run. Jerusalem earned several Tony nominations, including Best Play, and won the Tony for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Play. Butterworth's other plays include The Winterling, The Night Heron, and Parlour Song.
Butterworth is also a film writer and director, having written screenplays for his own plays MOJO and Huge, as well as Fair Game (starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn). He directed the film version of MOJO (starring Harold Pinter) and Birthday Girl (starring Nicole Kidman). "I knew I had to direct this show the moment I finished reading it," says Artistic Director Darren Evans. "The
writing is so tight. One critic said it was like ‘Beckett on speed,' but I would suggest it's more like Pinter on steroids."
He continues: "One of the things I like to do with my productions is change up the way that the audience experiences the space. So we often move the seating around, we've transformed the space into a classroom where the audience sat at student desks, we even created audience stools out of milk crates and pillows where the cast sat among the audience. MOJO lends itself to that kind of experimentation with audience experience."
Evans concludes: "Since the plot of MOJO revolves around the invasion of early American rock ‘n' roll into England, we're having a live band play the pre-show, intermission, and in-show music cues. This is going to add juice to the already potent script and allow for the audience to experience the vibe that was in the air in 1958 Soho. Plus it's basically adding a free concert into your night at the theatre, so it's a good deal on top of everything else."
MOJO features a mixed cast of Theatre on Fire favorites and newcomers alike: Greg Maraio and Gerard Slattery both return for a second stint at TOF, having starred in Act a Lady and Blackadder II: Live, respectively. The remaining TOF newcomers feature some of Boston's hottest new talent: Brain Bernhard, Keith Michael Pinault, Adam Siladi and Andres Rey Solorazano.
The band is led by Jerry Sheehan on guitar and vocals, with Matt B. Mahoney on bass, Chris Wagner on guitar and vocals, and Faris Albayya on drums. The design team features Luke Sutherland (Scenic Design), Caitlin Berger (Costume Design), Eric Jacobsen (Lighting Design), and Lynn Wilcott (Hair and Make-up Design), all but Berger returning TOF veteran designers. Theatre on Fire is small theatre company dedicated to producing hot, high-quality shows that take you out of your comfort zone. We don't do cute and we don't do boring. TOF has been nominated for nine IRNE awards in its first five seasons, winning once for 2009's Bash. Now in its seventh season, Theatre on Fire is proud to be a Resident Company at the Charlestown Working Theater (CWT). Darren Evans explains: "CWT has given us a wonderful opportunity to grow and thrive. It's a great organization, a funky facility, and a truly welcoming environment." TOF is also a member of StageSource and the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston.