Lost in Mozart

Fri 5th – Sat 27th August 2011

reviews

Helen Catt

at 11:57 on 27th Aug 2011

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The impression I took away from “Lost in Mozart” was one of gritty realism. The authenticity that came from the writer's experience in this area of London rang true in all aspects. This was particularly the case in the spitting, which was written in workshops with the residents from the two Ends.

The contrast between the classical and the rap was interesting and enjoyable, although it was a theme that could be developed slightly more in later productions – as besides the name of the estate, the connection between the choice of music and the script is somewhat tenuous. That's not to say it wasn't enjoyable, but I did spend the first half of the production wondering when it would become relevant.

The plot was not entirely unpredictable, but it allowed some quality exploration of important issues. The scenes by Tribal's bedside were a good opportunity for Pidge (Devauna McFarlene) to give a sense of entrapment. There was often an air of hopelessness about the characters' situation, giving the ending a tragic inevitability. It was never indulgent, though, and in the ending there was finally a sense of hope. Tyson Douglas gave an excellent performance, with his frustration after his dreams were shattered leading to a terrifyingly believable result. The other highlight of the show came from Natalie Boayke as Chloe whose passionate grief at the disintegration of her family and friends was very touching. Toby White was a believable villain, but at times his character felt a little flat – perhaps more as a result of the way he was used by the plot than because of the way he was acted.

There were some very strong issues being dealt with in “Lost in Mozart”, and at times this was done exceptionally. McFarlene's vision of the endless violence was even more desolate for its basis in reality. However at times, as is the danger with any play with a strong message, it could feel a little preachy. It was always saved, though, by the authenticity of the lyrics, which gave a real view into the thoughts and feelings of the people who live in these places, and by the convincing delivery of these lyrics by the actors. And in the times that we're living in, with the dissatisfied youth taking to the streets, and gang culture at an all time high, perhaps a little preaching wouldn't go amiss.

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Julia Chapman

at 12:15 on 27th Aug 2011

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Despite the somewhat misleading title, Lost in Mozart is not a Lost in Austen-type adventure into eighteenth-century Vienna following the great composer through his various misdemeanours and strokes of genius. Lost in Mozart is in fact about gang culture in North London.

The play revolves around Pidge or ‘Little Man’ as he is more frequently referred to, who lives in an area of London that has an unending antagonism towards the Mozart estate in the vicinity. As he begins a course in Photography at college, he finds his loyalties tested when he strikes a friendship with a peer from Mozart, and is pressured by his old friends to steal from and threaten his new one.

The play was well-written and interesting, propelling the action forward so that the plot never lagged, and the play on the name Mozart was very cleverly executed. Though the overall theme was lacking in originality, Lost in Mozart has been saved by a newfound topicality in the wake of the London riots that makes it more relevant and engaging.

The photography projected onto the screen onstage was beautiful, and a very touching moment occurred when the protagonists found themselves in an abandoned train station. The lighting effect of sun shining through window panes would have made a great photo in itself.

The small live orchestra was superb, but should have been employed more often. When the actors rapped to the Classical music, the raps were too slow and there was a distinct lack of energy. The outbursts of rap were too infrequent to be cohesive and never quite flowed from dialogue naturally enough.

All of the acting was very good, with two exceptional lead performances by Devauna McFarlene as Pidge and Justin Chinyere as Callum. McFarlene and Chinyere played off each other brilliantly and the contrast in their personalities made for some excellent comedic moments. Victoria Burgess as Ryder was also very amusing for her many erroneous Bible references.

Lost in Mozart has a great deal of potential, and is still an enjoyable production despite its fallbacks. With a wonderful orchestra accompanying the cast and a very talented group of young actors, the play is thought-provoking enough to be worthwhile.

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