Off-Broadway's Atlantic Theatre Company will open its 1997-98 season with the New York premiere of Jez Butterworth's Olivier Award-winning Mojo. The show began previews Oct. 28 opened Nov. 10 and was recently extended to Jan. 17, 1998.
Set in a seedy rock and roll club full of low-life hustlers, Mojo examines the infant British rock and roll scene in 1958 Soho, London. Premiered at London's Royal Court Theatre, Mojo transferred to the West End in Oct. 1996. London's Observer called it "Beckett on speed," while The Sunday Times said it combines "the verbal menace of Harold Pinter with the physical violence of Quentin Tarantino." (The Pinter reference is notable, because Mojo was made into a low-budget film by Butterworth, featuring Pinter as an Al Capone type hoodlum. According to the NY Times, the movie is due for release in 1998.)
Mojo had its American premiere at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Compa eirecting Mojo in New York is the Atlantic's artistic director, Neil Pepe. He also staged Clean and Five Very Live for the troupe.
Starring in the show are Patrick Fitzgerald, Chris Bauer, Matthew Ross and Atlantic regulars Clark Gregg and Jordan Lage. Designing the show are Walt Spangler (set), Laura Cunningham (costumes), Tyler Micoleau (lighting). David Yazbek has composed original music for the piece.
In its September 1997 issue, Elle magazine named Butterworth as one of the Elle 25, placing him in the company of London theatre notables Stephen Daldry, Nicholas Hytner, Sam Mendes and Martin McDonagh. Butterworth's previous works include Huge and the teleplays Birthday Girl and Christmas. Asked by the NY Times (Nov. 9) whether Mojo takes its cue from the violence in Trainspotting and Quentin Tarantino's films, Butterworth said, "The whole thiing of having an atmosphere of violence on stage or film didn't start with Tarantino." He then mentioned Jacobean tragedies and added that Mojo "has a cast-iron framework of morality."
The Atlantic Theatre, founded by William H. Macy and David Mamet in 1985, is located at 336 W. 20th St. between 8th and 9th Aves. For ticket and subscription information, call (212) 645-1242.
-- By Laura MacDonald and David Lefkowitz