Sarah Crompton, 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. Spry and light on his feet, he waves his hands elegantly, and rolls that mellifluous voice to good effect. It's hardly a revelatory performance but he has both charm and all the best lines, which he relishes. It is however a symptom of the play's essential laziness that we are asked to believe that Martin's young wife (Naomi Frederick making the most of a thankless task) will find him irresistible."
Ann Treneman, The Times
"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. It stars F Murray Abraham, a man who knows more than most about the dark side, having won an Oscar in 1984 for playing Salieri in the film Amadeus, and is now better known to Homeland fans as Dar Adal, the black ops CIA director."
"Laurence Boswell directs here with a sure touch, and the set, by Polly Sullivan, is quirky and fun. The play is just 80 minutes long and could do with a few more layers. At times, the only word that comes to mind is "sitcom" although, perhaps, I should make that "lit-com", and it does, at times, feel too insider. Yet Abraham lifts the evening, his portrayal full of innuendo and chutzpah, until, really, you just have to sit back and enjoy watching him twirl everyone, including the audience, round his little finger."
Sarah Hemming, Financial Times
"Benjamin Rubin, a famous veteran playwright, [is] invested here with enjoyable dyspeptic zing by F. Murray Abraham. His hapless host is an arts administrator (drolly played by understudy Lucas Hare at the performance I saw), in charge of a writers' retreat. [But] once young Martin arrives, bringing with him a beautiful wife, a supercilious manner and a reputation as "the voice of his generation", all bets are off. Before you know it, the laptop is in the lake and one party has headed for the hills."
"Daniel Kehlmann's play, translated from the German by Christopher Hampton, is a 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 soon becomes clear that both men are casualties of the game."
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
"Here, making his first West End appearance in more than twenty years, F Murray Abraham brings a mix of meanness and mischief to Benjamin Rubin, a pompous playwright living off past glories."
"Director Laurence Boswell's neat production, first seen in Bath in April, has fun with the farcical elements of this 80-minute piece. Its more philosophical interests — especially in the relationship between art, politics and reputation — are handled with wit yet feel insubstantial, and apart from Rubin the characters are flimsy."
Paul Taylor, The Independent
"The sizeable snag is that the play does not really rise to the occasion. It's an amusing but slight 80 minute comedy about the prickliness and fragility of the writerly ego and about the subjective nature of artistic judgement. It has a light touch but no hidden depths, unlike say Art, the Yasmina Reza piece of which it is occasionally reminiscent. With his guru grey goatee and air of weary grandeur, Abraham finds a lot of mischievous fun in the role of Benjamin Rubin, an illustrious has-been."
"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."
The Mentor runs at Vaudeville Theatre from 4 July to 2 September.
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