The revival of Jez Butterworth’s first play directed by his long term collaborator Ian Rickson, along with a stellar cast should guarantee at least box office success. But in terms of the production, it leaves something to be desired. It tells the story of a gang running a night club in 1950s Soho forced into crisis mode when the owner is chopped up and put into two bins. A slowly unfolding tale of power struggle and revenge unfolds, hidden behind Butterworth sharply written and witty dialogue with the occasional poetic gem. Sadly, while these embellishment and frilliness in the dialogue gives much entertainment, it takes the narrative towards sideways wander and hinders the progress of the plot.
It is not necessarily the fault of the play itself. Ben Whishaw as Baby, the son of the murdered owner who gives an masterclass in unpredictability and quiet menace and relishes his pauses which appropriately heighten the atmosphere of the scenes. But as great his individual performance is, it takes away the drive and momentum of the play. Rupert Grint and Daniel Mays are great as a comedic double act and Colin Morgan is excellent as the incompetent, bullied yet favoured lieutenant of the gang.
Altogether a mixed evening with fantastic performances but too distracted and lack focus to truly engage and entertain.