Theater Spotlight: Mojo

Anthony Sarnicki, Mark Benzel, Skyler Nowinski, and Joey Ford
Cristopher Bowlsby

Jez Butterworth's cranked-up tale of dirty deeds and double cross comes out of the gate like a rodeo bull: crazed, thrashing, nearly insensate. In 1958 London, a pair of rockers confabulate upstairs at the club where they play out their secondhand hopes of the high life. Sweets (Joey Ford) and Potts (Skyler Nowinski), babbling a blue streak and chucking down pills, gossip and chatter about the events downstairs, where their boss is meeting over the future of hip-shaking shouter Silver Johnny (Will Lidke). They imagine that the Silver One will catapult to stardom, bringing them along for the ride, but when their reveries are interrupted by Skinny (Mark Benzel) and Baby (Anthony Sarnicki, devouring the plum role of a thoroughgoing psychopath), a crucial fact becomes apparent: These guys are headed for ruin; it's only the details that remain to be determined. Sure enough, things go wobbly (Skinny ends up tied to a jukebox and menaced with a shotgun), followed by the arrival of the dour bulldog Mickey (Ryan Parker Knox, with a scowl that can silence even nattering speed freaks). We learn that Silver Johnny is gone, one of their own is resting in pieces in two garbage cans out back, and their immediate chances of survival have become questionable at best. Amy Rummenie directs for Walking Shadow, eliciting sharp and manic performances as Butterworth's script detours into a landscape of squishy sex, violence, domination, and the sort of moral compass one develops on a diet of controlled substances and bullshit. The second act has the feel of a prolonged hangover, full of betrayals, fragmentary conspiracies, and a no-exit tenor that is massively entertaining amid crisp dialogue and a cast that seems incapable of tiring. Astonishingly, it wasn't until I walked outside that I realized I had devoted three hours of my life to this thing, with absolutely no regrets. Nasty fun works that way. $15-$18. 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Sat.; Red Eye Theater, 15 W. 14th St., Minneapolis; 612.375.0300.

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