‘Stephen Merchant makes an impressive West End debut in this enjoyable ‘odd couple’ comedy.’ Independent
Always a keen West End Theatre goer I was looking for a non-musical production to see this summer and The Mentalists seemed like the perfect choice for two reasons. Firstly it’s written by Richard Bean who wrote the fantastic One Man, Two Guvnors that we saw and loved on Broadway starring James Corden and secondly, the very funny Stephen Merchant, you know the lanky one with the west country accent from The Office and An Idiot Abroad, was making his West End debut.
Ignoring the mixed reviews (I like to make my own mind up) I went ahead and booked for five of us to see the comedy, that opened at the beginning of July, at the Wyndham’s Theatre on Charing Cross Road. The set was simple, a basic no frills hotel room, the cast was small just Merchant and co-star Steffan Rhodri (who played Dave Coaches in Gavin & Stacey and Reg Cattermole in one of the Harry Potter movies) and the language was adult! I have to admit the first half was a bit confusing but funny nevertheless with lots of witty one-liners, the second half was better and quite hilarious as Merchant’s character unravelled and everything made so much more sense.
Basically Ted (Merchant) and his old friend Morrie (Rhodri) are holed up in a cheap hotel room in London as Ted wants him to film a video giving a message to the world based on ideals taken from an American psychologist that will see him adopt a new life, leaving behind his current mundane existence. He wants to escape from his middle management job, family commitments and debts. He has basically lost the plot, can’t pay the hotel bill with any of his many credit cards and goes through various stages of undress as the story unfolds.
It comes to light in the second act that the two first met in a children’s home and continued their friendship into their adult years. Morrie is a camp hairdresser who likes women, has made a few dodgy videos in his time (I actually thought that what him and Ted were doing) and is a compulsive liar, telling many tales of his imaginary father.
The story wraps up with Ted confessing to have killed a tramp who is in the boot of his car and the play ends with the police arriving, Ted surrenders behind the scenes but not before Morrie has washed his hair on stage and sandwiches have been thrown several times. Merchant is funny throughout, his creepy smile is ever-present and Rhodri plays his part well, all in all it was a good evening, topped off by meeting both actors afterwards at the stage door. In our party however the jury was out, some enjoyed it, some didn’t understand it and some did not like it at all!
Wyndhams Theatre. Charing Cross Road, London, WC2H 0DA
Performance Times: Monday – Saturday: 7.45pm (matinée Wednesday & Saturday at 3.00pm) until 26th September 2015.
Ticket Prices – £59.50, £49.50, £29.50, £19.50 (I paid £29.50 online and we had great centre seats in the stalls)
Premium Tickets – A limited number of the very best seats, previously held for the Producers or VIPs, are also available to book in advance from £82.25
Telephone: 0844 482 5120
Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2015. All rights reserved.