mojoJez Butterworth’s Mojo has an intriguing claustrophobic concept that finds a group of hapless gangsters locking themselves inside a pub to wait out the consequences of a murdered boss. Throw in a 1950s aesthetic and you should have something special, yet by streamlining Butterworth’s script and doing nothing interesting with the stage, The Lincoln Company manages to cut the heart out of Mojo.

The piece does get off to a great start, though, with two lowly gangsters, Cody Malthy’s Sweets and Shane Humberstone’s Potts joking back and forth in a way entirely believable of the era. Their chemistry is palpable and Malthy in particular is a standout here, his gauche physicality and childlike manner played to the fullest effect against the more streetwise Humberstone.

It is when the rest of the cast enters the fray however that Mojo begins to trip and weaken. None, bar Malthy, seem to act with any true nuance or touch, most just slide into perceived stereotypes of the era rather than building characters that feel worth their space on the vast stage. The character of Baby is perhaps the worst here, his supposedly menacing lines delivered with a petty bullish quality that robs them of impact.

In the aftermath of the murder, when the tension should be unbearable, the cast chooses to mostly scream at each other and pace around the vast open space for seemingly no reason.

There are a lot of things that don’t make sense in Mojo but it is primarily the plot that hampers the production. By trimming the script to fit the hour the narrative becomes diluted and murky, what should be tense and standoffish becomes confusing and bloated. Walking out of C I found myself in conversation with a few others trying to confirm plot details and motivation. Perhaps if Mojo had been truer to its origins then arguably it would have worked, but by labouring a fairly weak cast with a poor abridgement the play falters beneath its own misgivings.

Mojo is at C (Venue 34) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe Website