The Midwest Premiere
Directed by Jeff Christian
October 29 – December 6, 2009
The Artistic Home
3914 N. Clark Street
Like their heroes Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, it’s wee lads Mojo and Mickybo against the world in this bittersweet tale of innocence lost. Two actors play 17 characters in Owen McCafferty’s rollicking and poignant thrill ride through 1970 Belfast.
After last season’s highly successful Scenes From The Big Picture (Equity Wing Joseph Jefferson Nomination – Best Ensemble), Seanachaí returns to the exceptional storytelling style of Owen McCafferty. The colorful argot of urchins Mojo and Mickybo speaks of a gritty urban landscape, transformed by the exuberant artistry of the boys’ imaginations.
*Member of Actor’s Equity Association
From the Chicago Reader
November 5, 2009
“Set in Belfast during the 1970s, Owen McCafferty’s coming-of-ager follows two imaginative, excitable young boys who are too busy pulling pranks, fleeing bullies, and pretending to be Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to worry about living in a virtual war zone. When violence eventually intrudes on their lives, what’s lost isn’t so much their innocence as the bold, heedless resilience of childhood. In Jeff Christian’s brisk, athletic staging for Seanachai Theatre Company, Robert Kauzlaric and Dan Waller play not only the boys but everyone else in their world–troubled parents, eccentric shopkeeps, neighborhood thugs. Their characterizations are crisp, their accents flawless, their depiction of boyhood boisterous, touching, and true.”
From the Chicago Tribune
November 6, 2009
“The company returns to Belfast and McCafferty with ‘Mojo Mickybo,’ a 1998 one-act about two boys, age 10, who form a friendship in 1970, just as ‘the Troubles’ are heating up and ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ is the rage in the local movie house. Mojo (Robert Kauzlaric) and Mickybo (Dan Waller) meet on ‘an empty type of a day – the type a day you’d kick stones an chalk yer name on a wall rather than listen to yer ma and da spittin’ bullets at each other,’ as Mojo puts it. The grown-up Mojo is also the narrator, but Kauzlaric and Waller play 14 other roles between them — and though the thick Northern Irish accents take some getting used to, their exuberant performances, which shift from boyish glee to raw confusion and fear in the flick of an eyelash, are the main reasons to see this tale of kids who fall in and out of friendship against a backdrop of sectarian violence… The scenes where the two mimic their heroes are comic treasures. Their first viewing of the film, represented here by voiceover snippets of Butch-and-Sundance dialogue, allows us to witness their faces as each glorious iconic moment (‘The fall will probably kill you!’) flashes before them… Kauzlaric and Waller fill the tiny bare stage with believable pre-teen energy and quicksilver emotions.”
From Time Out Chicago
November 5, 2009
“A Stand by Me with rubber bullets, Belfast playwright McCafferty’s 1998 work chronicles a brief childhood friendship in early-’70s Northern Ireland. Mojo Mickybo covers familiar territory, albeit vivified with sharp, carefully observed detail… The play’s central conceit has Kauzlaric and Waller playing not only Mojo and Mickybo, respectively, but the entire array of Belfast inhabitants they encounter, 17 in all. They handle the challenge well, shifting crisply from kids to bullies to anxious mothers and irresponsible fathers, all along sporting impressively convincing accents… over the course of the hour the imaginative landscape of Belfast emerges: the bus drivers and ice-cream sellers, the women on street corners, the whole fabric of shared dreams and disappointments, painstakingly woven and too easily torn.”
November 20, 2009
Coming-of-age is an overused term to describe stories rooted in that transition between childhood and adulthood. But as anyone knows who’s thought about their own experience, such transitions don’t just happen. They come in stages—a growing awareness of the world, of yourself, your mortality. For most of Mojo Mickybo at Seanachai Theatre, we get a picture of two young Irish boys in a summer in which they became best friends. But it’s the end of their friendship that marks the end of a part of their innocence.
Mickybo lives over the bridge and Mojo up the road. Despite this vast difference, they meet in the park one day and become best mates. They spend the summer sneaking into the movies—in particular seeing Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid—avoiding the older kids who are their nemeses and somehow navigating a world that includes marital problems and civil unrest without ever truly being touched by it. But when Mickybo’s father is shot in the ongoing conflict between Protestants and Catholics, everything’s turned on its head.
Actors Robert Kauzlaric and Dan Waller play the “best of lads” as well as every other person they encounter in their day-to-day adventures: parents, bus drivers, neighbors, older kids and so on. And director Jeff Christian’s production is well served by its two actors, who transform on a dime without ever turning their numerous characters into stereotypes and—most importantly—without in any way condescending to their young main characters. Adults playing kids is generally a dicey proposition, but Kauzlaric and Waller pull it off perfectly.
And other than their performances, there’s not much to say. There’s very limited technical support, which is fine for this particular show. Christian keeps his two actors in constant movement, both as overly energetic young men and as they bounce between characters. Kauzlaric, as our main narrative voice, grounds the piece nicely, looking back nostalgically on this chapter of his childhood. He also has some of the most emotionally resonant moments as Mojo gradually realizes his life has changed. Waller’s Mickybo takes the lead on their adventures together, and Waller matches this hyperkinetic energy with nice stillness in his various supporting roles.
Perhaps most impressively, we never learn which side of the conflict each young man falls on. They are simply two kids who are forced to recognize a difference where they never saw one before. Seanachai lives up to its name with this fine offering.
November 2, 2009
“Amazingly electric performances… The sheer energy and the manic pace of this 70 minute show wins us with its charm and the honesty of the performances.”
November 2, 2009
“Robert Kauzlaric and Dan Waller turn in an amazing tour de force, slipping effortlessly from 17 different characters including the two young Belfast lads of the title with little more than the inflection of their voices, gesture or postures. As a showcase for acting ingenuity, ‘Mojo’ is a marvel of a thrill ride.”