Irish Theatre of Chicago (ITC), Chicago’s only professional theater company dedicated to presenting works that reflect the culture and history of Ireland, brings its second of three critically acclaimed productions to this Presenting Series season. The two-hander Mojo Mickybo runs February 15–16 at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.
Set in 1970s Belfast, Ireland, and written by leading Irish playwright Owen McCafferty, Mojo Mickybo follows the whirlwind escapades of mischievous nine-year-old best friends Mojo and Mickybo, who happen to be from opposite sides of the rising Catholic/Protestant divide known as “The Troubles.” Oblivious to the violence brewing around them, Mojo and Mickybo spend their days playing together, getting into scrapes, and re-enacting scenes from their favorite film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, until the politics of the adult world intrudes on their idyllic friendship.
This remount of Irish Theatre of Chicago’s physical, often comic, and deeply affecting hit 2009 production reunites original director Jeff Christian with Robert Kauzlaric (Mojo) and Dan Waller (Mickybo) reprising their roles as the young friends, in addition to playing a dozen additional characters including troubled parents, eccentric shopkeepers, and neighborhood bullies. While skillfully evoking rich details of urban Irish life in the ’70s, Mojo Mickybo also invites the audience to revisit the universal joys of childhood, when every day was a new adventure, and imagination could take you anywhere.
ITC Interim Artistic Director JR Sullivan adds, “In addition to the compelling story at its core, Mojo Mickybo is also a stirring evening of theater at its actor-driven best. This is a mesmerizing journey that shifts from past to present, from childhood to adulthood, careening into chaos—a creation of that so-called adult world.”
“Mojo Mickybo has never been more relevant to an American audience than it is today,” said Christian. “As a nation, we are currently completely divided, with neighbor pitted against neighbor, and a lot of hatred being expressed through the divisive labels we’re putting on each other. Mojo and Mickybo don’t worry about labels, or whose family is Catholic or Protestant. Together they inhabit a wonderful world of brotherhood that they’ve built for themselves in their imaginations. It’s a place I think we’d all live in if we could.”
The playwright Owen McCafferty is a native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, whose work includes Scenes from the Big Picture (winner John Whiting Award, Meyer Whitworth Award, and the Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for New Playwriting) and Quietly (nominated for Best New Play, Irish Times Theatre Awards). His first feature film, Normal People is currently shooting starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville.
The production team for Mojo Mickybo includes Mikhail Fiksel (original music and sound design), Miles Polaski and Robert Hornbostel (sound design), Elise Kauzlaric (dialect design), Mike Durst (lighting design), and Jen Bukovsky (production stage manager).