F Murray Abraham is an Oscar winner. He delivers a remarkable performance as embittered composer Salieri in the film version of Peter Schaffer’s Amadeus (soon to return to the National in January 2018). He’s fabulous in Homeland. He’s great in Curb Your Enthusiasm. So it’s such an enormous disappointment that his first foray onto the British stage in over 10 years is such a painful experience.
The Mentor is not good.
The script, an adaptation of German novelist Daniel Kehlman by Laurence Boswell, is not good.
The direction is not good. And apart from occasional moments – the acting is not good either.
It’s a bitter irony that so much of this play centres around debating the merits of a script – is it genius? Is it ok? Is it bad? Is it dreadful? I’d say the script of The Mentor loiters somewhere between OK and Bad. It feels clunky and obvious and without any of the subtlety that F Murray Abraham relishes in his dialogue.
F Murray Abraham is Benjamin Rubin as ageing has-been writer whose best work was written 5 decades ago and now finds himself mentoring the young upstart ‘voice of his generation’ who seems to have found himself where he is based on less than no talent – even his wife doesn’t rate him. Neither man wants to be there – and let me assure you neither does the audience.
On the plus side, at 80 minutes, it’s mercifully short.