Tuesday, 25 August 2015

'The Mentalists' Wyndhams Theatre ***

Some people’s notions on how they might change the world can be immeasurably delusional and idealistic and when one man decides to create a promotional video to form a brand new cult proposes a damaged soul with pitiable life experiences. The West End revival of Richard Bean’s 2002 play, ‘The Mentalists’ was a side-splitting production, moreover, the delineations were graciously conveyed.

‘The Mentalists’ is set in a hotel room in North London where we are acquainted with Ted, who is a middle manager for an industrial cleaning syndicate is obsessed with the work of American psychologist, BF Skinner. Ted, at present is going through some tough times with his matrimonial as he has an almighty argument with his wife as he persistently lies to her about his whereabouts. To generate his promotional video, Ted’s friend, Morrie a camp hairdresser is responsible for the filming and editing of the material, conversely Morrie is concerned by Ted’s frame of mind, but he identifies with Ted as Morrie has faced some of the similar childhood traumas. Over the course of the performance, Ted has not paid for the rental of the hotel room and both Ted and Morrie are frequently interrupted by the hotel staff as Ted’s credit cards are maxed out. When Morrie says that he can be paid at a later date, Ted is adamant that he’ll pay his friend first before he pays for anything else. Ted and Morrie’s relationship is incalculably heart-warming as we can see how their difficult upbringings have affected them in different behaviours as Morrie is quite tranquil compared to Ted who is fundamentally disturbed and not on this planet whatsoever. The filming and staging of the marketing video aggravates Ted as it is not up to the standard required for it to be publicised and even when Morrie offers his own creative ideas, they are completely dismissed by Ted as he is fixated by what is inside his own head.  When the police arrive outside the hotel room, Morrie is understandably alarmed by their appearance and Ted soon admits that he has murdered a homeless man and the police have of course come to arrest him for his crimes. At the finale, there is a tender moment when Ted is given a haircut by Morrie before Ted has to face his fate and after Ted has his hair washed by Morrie; Ted soon departs the room to face his demons. Bean’s narrative is particularly diverting as the two-hander approach advocates how people have ridiculous ideas on what can make the world a better place, plus the dialogue and one liners are streaming through Ted and Morrie’s connection.   

One found the performances by the microscopic company of, ‘The Mentalists’ to be wittily characterised through fitting vocal delivery from Zabarajad Salam and movement accomplishment. Stephen Merchant is lovely as the anti-hero, Ted; expressly how bothered he is in terms of what his future holds and that his nature can be at times strange and abnormal, as well as, because this is Merchant’s theatrical debut he has done a spiffing job indeed. Also the character’s crazy presence is very appealing to observe. Steffan Rhodri is superlative as the camp hairdresser, Morrie; exclusively how surprising it is to learn that the character is in fact a heterosexual male with feminine qualities, then again, he comes across immensely mature and artistic in terms of what camera angles would be effective for the video.

Abbey Wright’s direction is gratifying here as we are taken on an expedition of a self-obsessed man’s principals and methods in founding a society which is incomprehensible and Wright compliments this through tremendous camaraderie by both Merchant and Rhodri. Richard Kent’s design is pleasing to the eye as the shocking décor of the budget hotel room portrays how under-prepared Ted is at his quest for self-worth, in addition to this the scenic construction and scenic art elements of the set is wonderful detailed. Likewise, David Plater’s lighting design and Ben and Max Ringman’s sound designs and composition contributes to a highly fruitful design team which is splendid to witness. Overall, the experience of, ‘The Mentalists’ was a vastly effective one and a definite grand choice for a summer production.   

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