In a small, bland hotel room in London’s Finsbury Park, friends Ted (Stephen Merchant) and Morrie (Steffan Rhodri) have come together to make a movie. Morrie, the videographer, learnt his trade making porn films (whilst also being a randy unisex hairdresser). Ted is a car salesman who believes he has discovered the secret to happiness – his golden chalice, and he wants to tell everyone about it, making his fortune in the process. For only £29.99, punters seeking enlightenment can watch five hours of his ‘teachings’. While the day begins as expected, it increasingly becomes clear that all is not well with Ted.
His credit cards are declined, he leaves enigmatic messages about his location, and suspicions begin to arise about his family and career. Despite allegedly finding the key to Utopia in a forgotten book in his shed, Ted’s own life is crumbling. BAFTA winner Stephen Merchant is convincing as the erratic, nervous and manic Ted, while Steffan Rhodri’s dry humour and comic timing give the show pace. Rhodri plays a very likeable Morrie, an easy going older brother figure to Merchant’s Ted. Indeed in the scene where Ted breaks down and finally admits who he is, the dynamic between the two is very touching.
The Mentalists is an early creation of Richard Bean, former stand up comedian and writer of the worldwide hit, One Man Two Governors. The play is part black comedy, part social commentary, part Faulty Towers-like farce, part journey into the absurd. Suspend logical thought for a couple of hours, wait patiently until the second act to allow all of those references in the first act to make sense, and you’ll like it.
There are perhaps a few too many one-liner cracks in the first act, giving the production an air of awkwardness. But maybe that is intentional, highlighting Ted’s desperation to appear credible and sane. However, the second act is engaging; bizarre, and full of twists, featuring an armed police siege, a fruit bowl, and a short back and sides. Intrigued? Catch it at the Wyndham’s Theatre until the end of September.
Review by Emma Slater
Ted (Stephen Merchant) has a master plan to revolutionise the world – and with help from his best friend Morrie (Steffan Rhodri) and his trusty video camera, it may just go global! But Morrie begins to suspect that Ted’s in trouble as unpaid bills and cryptic phone calls start to mount; and as the world closes in on their hotel room in this hilarious and touching comedy, there is only one way out.
BAFTA and Golden Globe award-winning Stephen Merchant (The Office, Extras, Hello Ladies) stars with critically acclaimed actor Steffan Rhodri (Gavin & Stacey, Harry Potter, Posh) in this sharply written comedy from Richard Bean, writer of the smash hit, One Man, Two Guvnors.
Evenings: Monday to Saturday 7.45pm
Matinees: Wednesday and Saturday 3.00pm
Booking Until: 26th September 2015
Monday 13th July 2015