Stephen Merchant embarked on his West End theatre debut last week in the revival of Richard Bean’s 2002 comedy THE MENTALISTS at Wyndham’s Theatre, saying it was a great chance to do some “proper acting”.
The BAFTA and Emmy Award-winning ‘lanky comic’, (as TimeOut described him) shares the stage with GAVIN AND STACEY’s Steffan Rhodri in a two-hander about a fanatical man called Ted (Stephen) armed with his trusty video camera and Morrie (Steffan), an off-duty hairdresser with wild fantasies , holed up in a Finsbury Park hotel, filming utopian messages that could go global.
Stephen is best-known for his collaborations with Ricky Gervais on THE OFFICE, EXTRAS, LIFE’S TOO SHORT and AN IDIOT ABROAD as well as their cult podcast series. When asked by TimeOut was he nervous about his theatrical debut, Stephen replied, ‘I’ll probably regret ever doing it within two days, because I’ll just be so tired. But my grandfather was a builder and my dad was a plumber, which is proper work, so I’m not going to fuss about two hours a night”.
Well, that philosophical approach got an early test. On the second night he sustained stage damage, emerging from the theatre holding an ice-pack, or some anti-inflammatory pad…or maybe just a face-cloth…either way it was covering a wound on the lower arm of his signing wing! Yikes. A theatre assistant muttered something about a burn. However it merely slowed things a little as Stephen graciously signed and posed for selfies for the sizeable crowd waiting. I felt a bit guilty asking him to add a dedication as well, but he was happy to oblige.