Kabosh Theatre at the Lyric Studio, Hammersmith
A park in Belfast, 1970, a summer of intense heat: two male children, Mojo from 'up the road' and Mickybo, from 'over the bridge' meet and forge an intimate friendship. All they need to do is to act out their fantasies of being Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; all they need to worry about is the ineffectual menace of the cerebrally challenged Rubber Bullet Gang. Too young to understand the storm brewing around them and its effect on their parents, the future seems limitless and complete in their togetherness. Dramatic irony is at work here. As Fergal McElherron and Micheal Condron act out a host of characters on a set reminiscent of a children's sandpit, the audience is well aware that Belfast is on the brink of 'The Troubles' and that this idyllic friendship must be shattered by the onset of violence and sectarianism. As a tale it is a microcosm of the broader tragedy on the stage of Northern Ireland.
McElherron and Condron are protean, giving dynamic physical performances at a rapid pace and it is the physical dimension that injects the production with humour, warming the audience through laughter into wistfulness. They evoke a weightless childhood free through innocence and hope, unaware of the impending impingement of adult concerns.
McCafferty has always been a writer effortlessly forefronting the most humane aspects of characters beset by vicissitude and in his recent work he exhibits clarity of vision and a mature confidence in his skills as a storyteller. This is the fifth tour of Mojo Mickybo since its premiere in 1998; America beckons and a film is in negotiation. Founded in 1994, Kabosh retains a certain uniqueness in Ireland, particularly in the north, committed as it is to an innovative, visual and physical style and to pushing the boundaries of performance. Sleep Show for the Belfast Festival in 2001 took their work to the cutting edge of contemporary European performance. While Mojo Mickeybo is more conventional in its prioritisation of text, through the integration of physicality, and sheer energy, the 52-minute performance becomes an invigorating and engaging acquaintance with 17 different characters from the split perspective of the pre-adolescent characters and our own experienced viewpoints.
"Mojo Mickeybo" runs until 17th May
Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher