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Stephen Merchant leads The Mentalists

Published 25 February 2015

BAFTA Award-winning writer, comedian and actor Stephen Merchant will star alongside Gavin And Stacey’s Steffan Rhodri in a London revival of Richard Bean’s play The Mentalists this summer.

Emerging director Abbey Wright, whose production of The Father will run at the Trafalgar Studio 2 next month, will lead Merchant in his stage debut at the Wyndham’s Theatre for a limited season from 3 July (press night 13 July) to 26 September.

One Man, Two Guvnors’ playwright Bean’s hit comedy was first seen at the National Theatre in 2002 and tells the story of two men who are holed up in a faceless Finsbury Park hotel room. Forced to confront the darker side of their unique relationship, things quickly unravel as the pressure mounts in a hilarious and touching tale of friendship and utopian visions gone awry.

Speaking about making his West End debut in the production, Merchant made a characteristically wry statement, saying: “I’m going to be in a West End play. A hilarious, darkly poignant Richard Bean play no less. Come and see me and Steffan Rhodri doing proper acting in The Mentalists this summer.”

One of Britain’s most loved comedians, the star began his career as a stand-up comic before rising to fame as the co-writer and co-director of the hugely successful BBC comedy The Office alongside his long-time comedy partner Ricky Gervais.

Alongside his other numerous collaborations with Gervais, which include Extras, Life’s Too Short and An Idiot Abroad, Merchant has racked up a number of acting credits in film and high profile television programmes including I Give It A Year, Hot Fuzz and America’s hit sitcom Modern Family.

His forthcoming co-star Rhodri is similarly best known for his screen performances, becoming a household favourite as Dave Coaches in BBC’s much-loved Gavin And Stacey. His numerous other credits include Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, Under Milk Wood and, most recently, Channel 4’s Cucumber.

Rhodri is also no stranger to the stage, having appeared in West End productions of Posh and Absent Friends, Clybourne Park at the Royal Court Theatre and David Grindley’s Olivier Award nominated production of Abigail’s Party. He will soon be seen at the National Theatre in Light Shining In Buckinghamshire.

Explaining why now was the time to bring this popular play back to the stage, Bean commented: “The central concerns of the play are even more relevant in an election year than when I wrote it. Factors like the perceived decline of social values and how this can result in the rise of fringe parties and a very personal view of politics fascinate me; but the real humour of the piece comes from Ted and Morrie’s friendship, their reliance on each other and how they deal with their frustrations as working men battling against the world.”

The Mentalists will follow another all-star cast into the Wyndham’s Theatre, as the highly anticipated American Buffalo arrives from 14 April, with a company including Homeland star Damian Lewis and American legend John Goodman.

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