Mojo | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader
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A common criticism of Jez Butterworth's 1996 shout-'em-up, set in the hopped-up, mobbed-up London music scene of the late 50s, is that for all its post-Mamet, post-Tarantino aggression, its conflicts are stakeless, lacking any deep insight or universal resonance. For my money, however, the real problem with Mojo is that it's a black, black comedy that's rather short on laughs--which may be because it decides it's a drama about halfway through. This shift has baffled mightier ensembles than Mary-Arrchie's--even the supercharged cast of Mojo's stateside premiere at Steppenwolf a few years back--but director David Cromer does damn fine work despite the flawed design. As usual, the actors playing sidemen Sweets and Potts fare best. The play's only purely comic creations, they're also easily its most realized, and in the hands of pros Dan Waller and Hans Fleischmann the early scenes they dominate are a riot. But as things progress, they're overshadowed by main-event contenders Baby and Mickey, a boringly violent cartoon and a woefully underdrawn cipher. There's only so much even the talented Sean Cooper and Carlo Lorenzo Garcia can do with these roles, or the disappointing second act. Through 1/9: Thu-Sat 8 PM, Sun 7 PM. No show Fri-Sat 12/24-12/25. Mary-Arrchie Theatre Company, Angel Island, 731 W. Sheridan, 773-871-0442. $13-$22.

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