THEATRE REVIEW: Mood Music starring Ben Chaplin and Seána Kerslake at the Old Vic


WHERE: Old Vic

WHEN: 30/4, press night 1/5 runs to 16/6/18

We groaned when Rhys Ifans was cast in the lead here because he had been so unexpectedly right as Scrooge in this venue’s production of A Christmas Carol that we weren’t sure we wanted to see him quite so soon in something else.

  • Read on for reasons including why Mood Music must be a nightmare to learn and perform

Ifans withdrew however and is replaced by Ben Chaplin (pictured above) as Bernard an ageing record producer who is rowing with young star Cat (Seána Kerslake is by far the best thing about this) over a writing credit for their collaboration.

Writer Joe Penhall (Blue/Orange, Sunny Afternoon and TV’s Mindhunter) gives us a masterclass of technical writing with conversations by our protagonists with their lawyers and psychotherapists interweaving.

It must have been a nightmare to learn but what we are presented with at this preview are a series of interlocking conversations, that sometimes run simultaneously but never over each other, which have the beauty of music about them.

Penhall is a former journalist, including a spell writing about music, and certainly has an ear for interesting dialogue as well as the ability to burrow within his subject matter and enable his audience to get to its heart.

The story about a powerful man abusing his relationship with a trusting and talented younger woman is an interesting one for this venue to tell as it comes to terms with revelations about its former Artistic Director Kevin Spacey. The #TimesUp movement will also find much to chew on here as it will with The Writer currently playing at the Almeida.

However, we’re all about the music and Mood Music has curiously little of it. Instead its focus on the legal aspects of the music industry left us a little cold with only the timeliness of the debate and technical prowess of the writing to admire.

  • Picture by Manuel Harlan via Facebook courtesy Old Vic. Tickets
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