by Jez Butterworth.
Theatre By The Lake Studio Lakeside CA12 5DJ In rep to 5 November 2014.
8pm 11, 16, 17, 21, 22, 28, 29 Oct, 4, 5 Nov.
2pm 16, 29 Oct.
Post-show Discussion 17 Oct.
Runs 2hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 017687 74411.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 August.
Rare revival of enigmatic drama makes it worth asking the questions.
West End gangland, the setting for Jez Butterworth’s first play Mojo, moves to the West country for this 2006 piece. There’s a sense of fragility, of vulnerability, in the title, conveyed admirably in director Jez Pike’s Keswick revival. All the toughness some characters initially suggest turns out to be unstable, whisked away as time passes back and forth.
City violence hangs about West and the associates who visit his remote property. His command is shown in his firm orders; his vulnerability in the rivals questioning him about the place. Tension asserts itself behind every character as they negotiate uncertainties, wrapped-up in their little worlds.
Harold Pinter’s influence soon establishes itself as a vital component of the atmosphere. The struggle for dominance of a room, the kicking-out of a tramp who hangs around the area, the discovery two characters have been instructed to kill the other one, the taciturn, somehow provocative young woman.
Butterworth earns the right to be so derivative in his sustained mood and the well-planted references to individual plays from Pinter’s earlier dramatic world particularly – notably The Dumb Waiter and The Caretaker. And the rural location, created with a sense of rough bleakness by Anna Pilcher Dunn’s traverse setting and Jo Dawson’s lighting, also recalls Butterworth’s earlier, 2002 play The Night Heron.
There too people from a city arrive in a remote country place – though in East Anglia rather than the south-west – and there is a similar mix of humour and unresolved tension. And Winterling’s title (whatever its specific meaning) suggests the transience of flight.
Butterworth moves back in time in his second act, while echoing earlier scenes. By reviving the play in its Studio alongside a play from a later stage of Pinter’s career, Old Times, Keswick has pointed-up the similarities and the individuality in the younger playwright.
The comparison’s increased by Liam Smith’s West, the man in charge who turns out to have less control than initially seems, just as his Deeley in the Pinter struggles to maintain his apparent status. Pike’s generally well-played production ensures Butterworth’s lesser-spotted Winterling makes a good show in Keswick.
Patsy: Henry Devas.
Draycott: James Duke.
Lue: Jennifer English.
West: Liam Smith.
Wally: Alan Suri.
Director: Jez Pike.
Designer/Costume: Anna Pilcher Dunn.
Lighting: Jo Dawson.
Sound: Maura Guthrie.