The Internet Theater Magazine of Reviews, Features, Annotated Listings


SEARCH CurtainUp



Etcetera and
Short Term Listings



LA/San Diego






Free Updates
NYC Weather
A CurtainUp LondonLondon Review
The Mob
byBen Clover

If popular opinion is to control the utterances of her politicians then good-bye indeed to this country
--- Stephen More
"Contemporary resonance" and "relevance to today" is often the chant as directors exhume old plays to stage. After the last year the contemporary resonance of John Galsworthy's The Mob is admittedly temple-gong enormous, but like the gong it's less than subtle. To further abuse the metaphor you can also tell what's going to happen pretty quickly when you see it. Written just before the outbreak of the Great War it shows a politician with principles, Stephen More (Kevin Doyle), losing everything in their defence. His large country intends to attack a smaller country GONG! Over trumped up charges GONG! To make it part of their empire GONG! His objections are subjected to pressure from his father-in-law, his constituents, the Press, his wife and child and ultimately "The Mob".

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.

The Mob
Written by John Galsworthy
Directed by Sam Walters

With: Kevin Doyle, Susie Trayling, Bernard Holley, Richard Simpson, Philip Benjamin, Claudia Elmhirst, Robert Benfield, Oliver Senton, Vilma Hollingberry, Danny Brown, Sam Dowson, Stuart Burgess, Georgia Beatty/Sarah Gordon/Lizzy Pedley
Designer: Loran Marshall
Lighting Designer: John Harris
Running time: Two hours with one interval .
Box Office: 020 8940 3633
Booking to 4th October 2003
Reviewed by Ben Clover based on 8th September 2003 Performance at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond Surrey. (Tube/Rail Station: Richmond)
London Theatre Walks

Mendes at the Donmar
Our Review

Peter Ackroyd's  History of London: The Biography
Peter Ackroyd's History of London: The Biography

London Sketchbook
London Sketchbook

Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers

At This Theater Cover
At This Theater

Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
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
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century

metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.

The Broadway Theatre Archive


Information from this site may not be reproduced in print or online without specific permission from