The Mentor (Bravo Arts) at Theatre Works - 70 minutes, without interval
Vulnerability and how to make it as an actor. That is what The Mentor is all about.
Amanda Redfern (Amanda Muggleton) is noted for one feature film, but of late parts have been few and far between for the ageing starlet.
She spent time in Los Angeles, but has no desire to return.
Now she spends her days cooped up in her modest home.
One day there’s a knock at her door and an enthusiastic young man, Jordan Ridley (Connor Morel), desperate to impress, enters.
He has a lowly job at a law firm, but would like to be an actor.
Redfern immediately challenges him. She gives him a hard time.
He is frustrated. He gets angry and upset.
Photos by Lucinda Goodwin
She can see and appreciate his sensitive side, but needs him to toughen up.
She wants him not just to learn his lines, but to research what is behind them.
While Redfern is mentoring Ridley, she receives phone calls from, among others, her son in LA and her agent.
She is hiding a dark secret, which only becomes clear late in the piece.
Spanning a range of emotions, The Mentor has been well crafted by first time playwright Joshua White and director Christian Cavallo.
The dramaturg is Iain Sinclair, with input from Cameron Steens, the latter of whom is also assistant director.
The Mentor delves into numerous themes, including the cost of “making it” in the entertainment industry, mental health, ageism and overcoming obstacles.
Amanda Muggleton is superb – a force of nature in her characterisation of an actor whose glory days may be behind her, while maintaining the rage.
She is bold and brassy, provocative and pained.
Jordan Ridley is her counterpoint – wet behind the ears, desperate to learn and needing to find more.
Connor Morel is compelling, too, as a wannabe trying to find his feet.
The two hander is engaging, evocative and earnest. It is a challenging work, which unfolds in numerous scenes based around Ridley’s visits.
As we learn more, we come to understand how Redfern and Ridley came to be how they are.
There is “growth” from the narrative, which serves the piece well.
The “messy” home environment created by set designer Casey Harper-Wood and musical stings, reflecting hits past, work well.
The Mentor succeeds by peeling back the layers and confronting raw truth.
It is playing at Theatre Works until 26th November, 2022.