What was MAGICAL for YOU? Be included in the “Merlin Book of Magic” presented to Actors

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MOJO REVIEW : COLIN Morgan transforms into “Skinny” Full Play Review

PictureA friend and I traveled to London from the United States over the New Year’s holiday to take in some sights and go to the theater. We opted for Mojo, a play that had gotten wonderful reviews…and happened to have several of our favorite & well-known actors in it. We decided to see it more than once—at the beginning, middle, and end of our stay—just in case any of the actors got sick and couldn’t perform one night.  I am so glad that we decided to do this. Mojo was an amazing play that got better and better each time we experienced it. If I had seen it just once I would have missed out, big time.

The first time through the play I had to adjust to the accents. I watch a lot of British television shows (relatively speaking), so I was surprised that I had trouble. Colin Morgan’s cockney accent was particularly tough at times for me, but by the end there was only one line of his that he yelled that I never understood.

I had watched part of the Mojo movie on YouTube to get ready for the play, so I already knew the basics of the plot going in. I’m glad I did this, for it helped me follow the play more easily. That being said, each time I saw it I understood more of the undercurrents and I recognized nuances that I had missed the previous time. This play was very well done—I was overwhelmed by how brilliantly every actor did.

First, Brendan Coyle… As a big Downton Abbey fan, I was excited to see him on stage. He was a strong presence and I loved watching him interact with Skinny and Baby. I’ll admit that I had a hard time ever really accepting him as Mickey because part of me always wanted to believe that Mr. Bates was incapable of…well, go see the show for that detail. I loved seeing his sensitive side when it came to his affection for Skinny…and this made his Mickey character very tragic for me when it was all said and done.

Second, Tom Rhys Harries as Silver Johnny… Tom was wonderful—truly the perfect image for the part. I was sorry that his number of lines was so limited, but he did a fantastic job with what he had. He is definitely a rising star and I look forward to his future projects.

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Brendan Coyle as Mickey

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Tom Rhys Harries as Silver Johnny

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Mays as Potts, Grint as Sweets

Third & Fourth, Daniel Mays and Rupert Grint… I have to talk about them together because their back-and-forth banter was one of the most fun parts of the play. I was not familiar with Mr. Mays before deciding to see Mojo, so I watched a few shows of his on Netflix. I read that he was very well-known in the London theater circuit and now I can definitely see why. His exuberance is infectious and his delivery hilarious. I enjoyed every minute of Sidney Potts. Mr. Mays and Rupert Grint (Sweets) played off each other brilliantly. They made me laugh—a lot. I can see why some reviewers have noted that Mr. Grint’s Sweets is a little similar to the Ron Weasley character, and I’d have to agree with that.  But, I think that similarity served to make the Sweets character even better in Mojo. I felt like I knew Sweets a little already (as slightly goofy Ron), but this was the much darker, more streetwise version.  I loved it. Mr. Grint did a fantastic job—I hope he considers doing more theater in the future.

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Ben Whishaw as Baby

Fifth, Ben Whishaw… My only exposure to Ben before Mojo was as Q in Skyfall. Wow. Mr. Whishaw truly blew me away with his acting…not to mention his singing and dancing. His ability to convey various emotions as he swung back and forth between seemingly sane and sadly disturbed was impressive. I don’t think I will ever forget his solo dance across the stage ending in a shower of confetti. In one of the shows we saw, Ben accidentally spit water on the stage and then completely wiped out a bit later when chasing Skinny around the stage at full speed. He crashed down hard (I think his feet actually flew off the end of the stage) but he hopped right up and kept running. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought that he’d fallen on purpose for effect. He has earned a new fan.

Finally, Colin Morgan… In truth, he is the primary reason that I chose to see Mojo while in London. I am a huge Merlin fan. I discovered the show by accident while surfing Netflix for something to watch while on the treadmill. I devoured the first four seasons on Netflix in early 2013 and chomped at the bit waiting for the last season to come out on DVD in the U.S. Since the final show had already aired in December 2012 in the UK, I found out how the show ended from the inevitable spoilers available online. Knowing the end didn’t make it any easier to take. Mr. Morgan’s portrayal of Merlin was so believable, so engaging, that I really cared about his character. More than the usual, I mean. I grieved for his loss and his loneliness at the end. It felt so odd to me…so unusual…to be caught up in a show to that extent—because that had never, ever happened to me before. I am way too logical and practical to give my heart to a fictional character. So, either I changed, or Mr. Morgan offered something that I had never experienced before. I’m thinking it’s the latter. He is a wonderful actor…and a very humble and kind individual. You can’t help but like him. Therefore, when I saw that Mr. Morgan would be starring in Mojo when I was in London, I couldn’t miss it.

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Colin Morgan as Skinny in Mojo

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Colin Morgan as Merlin

Mr. Morgan as Skinny was completely different from his role as Merlin. As others have said, the casual Merlin fan might not even realize that the same actor played both parts. Mr. Morgan became Skinny—completely. He never wavered. From the moment that he emerged onto the stage cursing a blue streak (wow, that was a shock to my ears) until his dramatic death at the end, he was a twitchy struggler aiming to fit in. The jukebox scene with Baby humping and torturing a partially clad Skinny with a cutlass was mesmerizing in its rawness—that’s another part of the play that I won’t likely forget. One would think that Mr. Morgan in his underwear would be appealing, but in the end you just felt bad for Skinny as he was being bullied by Baby. Skinny was a somewhat downtrodden individual and Mr. Morgan played him to perfection. His death scene was both a little funny and amazingly sad. I noticed that Mr. Morgan switched his final words a bit in each show, making every time a little new…making it real…making it his own. Brilliant acting, as usual. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
So, in summary, if you can, go see Mojo. And, if possible, see it more than once. You won’t regret it.  The fish are jumping and the cotton is high. Don’t miss the boat.
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