Daniel Kehlman’s play arrives in London following the production’s run at the Theatre Royal Bath’s Ustinov Studio earlier this year. But what have critics been making of Laurence Boswell’s production?
Benjamin Rubin is a cantankerous old writer, whiskey aficionado and pedant, still basking in the reflected glory of long-ago success. Martin Wegner is a rising young literary star, heralded as “The voice of his generation”.
When Martin is given the opportunity to develop his new play under the mentorship of his idol, the two writers meet and two massive egos are set on a collision course in this perceptive and compelling comedy about art and artists and the legacy of fame.
The Independent: *** “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.”
WhatsOnStage: ** “The main reason to see The Mentor is to see F Murray Abraham, proving at 77 that he can still hold a stage and a role.”
London Theatre.co.uk: *** “The Mentor cuts below its elegant surface to provide a persuasive portrait of the price and value of criticism and whether it is constructive or not for a creative artist to receive.”
The Times: **** “There’s much about this short, sharp look at the literary world that plays against type.”
The Reviews Hub: *** “It’s a shame not to have explored the changing pitch of the mentoring relationship over a number of scenes and it needs a clearer tone, but it does offer some engaging philosophical debates on the subjective nature of art.”
British Theatre.com: *** “Christopher Hampton’s translation has a lightness of touch that brings a leisurely flow of laughter, making this a pleasant if unexciting 80 minutes of well-made theatre.”
Broadway World: *** “If ultimately more literary trifle than fully-fledged drama, it’s still a deft piece elevated by sharp performances.”
Evening Standard: *** “Abraham’s performance is intriguingly ambiguous.”
The Radio Times: *** “what could have been a biting satire on ego and the pretentiousness of artists never really hits home and just becomes, well, pretentious.”
Carn’s Theatre Passion: **** “There are few sights more engaging than a battle of the egos and that is just what Daniel Kehlman’s The Mentor serves up.”
The Upcoming: **** “While The Mentor is not fully satisfying, it is elevated considerably by its intriguing themes, entertaining dialogues and the immense presence of F Abraham Murray, whose performance alone makes the production outstanding.”
London Theatre1: ***** “Daniel Kehlmann’s intriguingly voyeuristic play is metatheatre at its most disarming.”
Official Theatre: *** “As sharp and funny as the writing here is, it never feels important as the caustic wit comes at the expense of credible characterisation – one never really cares about what is going on in the world of the play and given its lapses into pretentiousness, it doesn’t feel that the characters care either.”
British Theatre Guide: “The Mentor will not be everybody’s cup of tea but anyone who fell in love with Art or wishes to enjoy a debate about artistic merit and its relationship to fame and fortune should rush along to the Vaudeville.”
Theatre Weekly: *** “The Mentor may not be the best play in the world, but it is very watchable.”
The FT: *** “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.”
The Mentor will play at the Vaudeville Theatre until the 2nd September. To book tickets visit: Ticketmaster.co.uk, Discount Theatre.com, Theatre Tickets Direct.co.uk, Love Theatre.com, Theatre People.com and UK Tickets.co.uk.