A reviews round-up for The Mentor at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Academy Award winner and Homeland star F. Murray Abraham leads the cast in the London premiere of The Mentor.
In his first West End outing in more than 20 years, Abraham gives a shining performance in this prickly comedy from the German playwright Daniel Kehlmann.
An entertaining satire on the arts, The Mentor finds Abraham playing a cantankerous older writer forced to supervise an emerging young talent.
Laurence Boswell’s highly anticipated production of Kehlmann’s acclaimed play has opened to positive reviews at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Read our round-up of reviews below.
The Mentor runs until 2 September 2017 at Vaudeville Theatre.
REVIEWS ROUND-UP“This show has the aura of an event. Even if the play’s arguments about the subjectivity of art and the uncertainty of experience are familiar, the play is full of prickly comedy and offers 90 minutes of civilised pleasure.” “Laurence Boswell’s production plays up the comedy and gets good performances all round. Abraham captures exactly the tetchiness of an old writer who masks his insecurity under an obsession with perfection, especially with drinking the right Speyside whisky, and Daniel Weyman’s Wegner has the right blend of panic and brashness.” Michael Billington, The Guardian
“Abraham exudes an entertaining air of desiccation and disdain as the literary has-been who acts like royalty but is desperately short of royalty cheques. He swiftly makes his presence felt in the chichi court-yard – complete with blossoming tree – that is to be his character’s main hang-out with feted young playwright Martin (Daniel Weyman).” Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
“F. Murray Abraham shines in an amusing play about art and artists” “Chic, sardonic little comedy about male ego, jealousy and the value of art. It’s also mischievously satirical about the whole industry: the price of fame, the merry-go-round of fashion, taste and awards ceremonies.” “It’s sharp and fun (with nifty references perhaps to Aristophanes’ The Frogs and Chekhov’s The Seagull), though quite slight and held back in particular by the flimsy portrayal of Martin’s wife (Naomi Frederick). The enjoyment in Lawrence Boswell’s sprightly production (first seen at the Ustinov Theatre, Bath) lies in watching Abraham’s expert blend of charm and malice as Benjamin. His timing is a joy: having withheld judgment for an agonising age on Martin’s script, he finally comments — on the font. He is nicely matched by Daniel Weyman’s neurotic Martin, who, whatever the merits of his play, certainly has a great line in self-dramatisation.” Sarah Hemming, Financial Times
“The sizeable snag is that the play does not really rise to the occasion.” “Boswell’s production is well paced and sparkily performed but it can’t disguise the fact that everything in the piece is signalled too broadly. The play is happier dispensing the funny but obvious gags about Rubin’s diva demands and his tetchy dismay that they were not exactly overrun with applicants for his mentoring services than it is in giving us any plausible detail about the pair’s differences in authorial taste. “If you say it quickly it might work for a moment,” cries the GOM after disdainfully quoting a line he finds pretentious. The pair’s literary disputes are too vague and crudely satirised.” “I enjoyed the secondary things most – like Jonathan Cullen’s delicious turn as the camp, flustered and frustrated arts administrator who is a painter himself (all his “moods” are on his mobile) and who eventually rebels against sucking up to other artists for a living. In general, though, a disappointment.” Paul Taylor, Independent
“F Murray Abraham gives an intriguingly ambiguous performance” “Making his first West End appearance in more than twenty years, Abraham brings a mix of meanness and mischief to Benjamin Rubin, a pompous playwright living off past glories.” “Abraham’s performance is intriguingly ambiguous. He’s both a tyrant and a pedant, who’s become confused between artistry and snobbish quibbling about fonts and whisky brands. Tickled by his obsessiveness and stunned by his arrogance, we’re left to wonder whether he’s darkly intellectual or in fact desperately shallow.” Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
“'The Mentor’ is a self-absorbed and fitfully entertaining satire on the arts world by German writer Daniel Kehlmann that – let’s be honest – probably wouldn’t be troubling the West End if it didn’t star an actual Oscar-winner in the shape of F Murray Abraham (the gong was for 1984's ‘Amadeus’, though he’s perhaps better known now for ’Homeland’). But it does, and it’s here, so we might as well make the most of it.” Andrzej Lukowski, TimeOut
“Brought to book by a sly old fusspot: The Mentor is a bit of navel-gazer” “American actor F. Murray Abraham is a relaxed presence on stage.” “Rubin is a spoilt fusspot and the show opens with him slowly driving an amiable arts administrator (well done by Jonathan Cullen) to the end of his tether. These moments are the best in the show.” Quentin Letts, Daily Mail
“Chic and well-performed premiere of a play by the acclaimed German playwright let down by flimsy narrative.” “There’s much about this short, sharp look at the literary world that plays against type. With its spiky wit and digs at artistic vanity, it feels more Manhattan than anything else, and yet it is a comedy by a German playwright named Daniel Kehlmann.” Ann Treneman, The Times
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