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A CurtainUp London Review
The script is a great example of worthy and liberal Edwardian theatre: eloquent arguing in drawing rooms, and as such the parallels with the present are occasionally awkward. When More is confronted by the mob outside a theatre some wear modern hooded tops and trainers. A small point, but to hear them then give lines like "leave blast you!" is unwittingly hilarious. That and the difficulty of taking any character called Hubert seriously detract a little from what is a solid if unremarkable text.
There is a disturbing note of contempt for the working classes in The Mob. All the below stairs characters are either vicious, spineless, sentimental or stupid and Galsworthy seems to place all the blame on these excitable plebians rather than on the representatives of the Press and Government who argue more eloquently. The title reveals the terror Galsworthy's contemporaries had of "the masses". Like the rulers of the Roman Empire, they share a fear of crowds. It is the mob who martyr the MP at the climax although they do seem a little sheepish afterwards. Although he loses both life and cause he is immortalised as a statue, provided presumably, by the same guilty plebians in taxes.
Kevin Doyle's powerful performance dominates the play and the cast are very capable. Doyle is a likeable protagonist and if only the script had given him more to work with, the evening might have been electrifying. The scenes with his wife (Susie Trayling), especially her sexual blackmail gambit, show off both actors and begin to connect the political dilemma with the interpersonal.
The strong lead performance and deft direction from Sam Walters the Orange Tree has given a dated play with an undeniable contemporary resonance (GONG!) a strong production. The Mob is a thoughtful but unspectacular night and whatever its age some things warrant saying more than once.
Mendes at the Donmar
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
At This Theater
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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