Stephan Merchant, Ed Helms, Richard Ayoade and Lee Mack are a list of people that I really like as actors but no matter what they play, they always a dissection of the same sort of character. Whether or not they have been type cast, you always imagine Ed Helms as the Nard Dog dude from The Office US, Richard Ayoade as the geeky silly talking man, Lee Mack the pun man of comedy and panel shows and Stephan Merchant the tall Somerset man who has constant arguments with a Manc man called Karl Pilkington whilst a Ricky Gervais hysterically laughs in the background.
I know it’s not good to associate actors with the same role every time once you have seen a show or a film which sets that persons persona in your mind for life, but let’s be honest we do, especially with some actors.
I am a fan of Stephan Merchant, I have watched all shows and most films he has been a part of (there is a wedding film that was in the cinemas recently that I haven’t seen yet but think that’s it) but because I have listened to him so much on the Ricky Gervais Podcasts, that’s all I am going to remember him as I always associate him with it. Also from watching him live as a stand up performer and shows such as US TV programme Hello Ladies he is always the guy you want to feel a bit sorry for.
This year Merchant makes his west end debut in a two man show called The Mentalists. The story is written by English playwright Richard Bean and is based around two friends Ted and Morrie.
The play is set in a budget hotel room in Finsbury Park that is meant to represent a cheap based one with stains on the carpet and all the basics you would expect. When the play begins there is no warning and just begins with a merchant standing in the middle of the room after opening the door to it with some force to show some curiosity of the room and also to give some hint of the type of character that he is meant to be.
The first half of the play seems to go quite quickly even though a lot of the script is made up of many monologues by both Merchant and Steffan Rhodri that are just side stories to fill in some gaps. The first act is a bit wordy with not much action happening apart from merchant getting frustrated with everything or shouting at his colleague / friend.
When the second act ends the whole play feels like it has taken a completely different turn. The first act was wordy and in comparison to the second act, very slow. The second act has a lot of action and dramatic turn which sounds in words that it’s really good, in reality both myself and my friend who I went with, had no idea why the play had took this direction and how it had any relevance.
I won’t give too much away about the show just in case you are reading this and have tickets or debating about going. As an overall show I felt it was ok, there was some funny moments where Stephan merchant shines for his comedic style and some of the wording of the play is very cleverly put together, however, if you go in like I did not reading what the play is about, you will walk away interpreting it the best you can or turning to your friend at the end (like we did) look at each other and wonder what the hell happened in the second act.
Rating out of 5 : 2.5
The Mentalists is on at Wyndham Theatre until the 26th September, tickets ranging from £16.75 – £95.75