Joe Penhall’s ‘Mood Music’ premieres at the beautiful Old Vic Theatre, which perfectly lends to the grandeur that these musicians would be used to. The stage is completely open, appearing bigger than it might do with elaborate sets but the simplicity of this set doesn’t hide anything, perhaps award-winning set designer Hildegard Bechtler intended this to be expressive of the revelations we learn from these characters as they go through psychotherapy.
As well as the set being exposed, it also consists of numerous microphones hanging from the ceiling which could not only represent the fact that this play revolves around musicians but to the fact that their every word is being heard, all their secrets and feelings coming out. This is possibly the most stripped back play altogether that you will see on the West End, currently. Yes, it comes from brilliant creators and even stars the amazing Ben Chaplin, but their talent only adds to the simplicity.
Two musicians clashing may not sound like the most interesting dilemma, but the darkness of the music business will be exposed through this relationship, reflected upon through their therapists and amplified through their lawyers. Ben Chaplin takes on the role of the experienced producer, musician and ‘genius’ – aka narcissist, who plays opposite Seana Kerslake, young singer, who struggles for creative control.
This play opens doors, showing us the not so glamorous side of the music industry, it’s to an extent dark but humorous for it. There aren’t any dramatic backdrops or props. There isn’t a flashy lighting arrangement. There isn’t even a huge amount of music. What you see is what you get – it’s raw emotion, actors doing what they do best, and they certainly do showcase just what an ‘actors’ best can be, as they capture the audience – you’ll be hanging off their every word.
When you think of the West End you tend to think of the big musicals and the show-offy shows, but this play doesn’t boast any of that and it doesn’t need it either. You’ll want to be quick getting these tickets, because they aren’t likely to hang around.
Mood Music closes its run at the Old Vic 16 June. You can book your tickets here.
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