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The Theatreguide.London Review

All Mouth
Menier Chocolate Factory June 2007

This is an opportunity missed. There may very well be a TV sitcom, or even a drama, in the lives of those actors who earn a modest living doing commercials and voiceovers, at the cost of giving up any dreams of stardom or art.

But this play by Jonathan Lewis and Miranda Foster is not it. The show has very modest aims and does not achieve them. The laughs are very few and far between, and the drama is strictly by the numbers.

We watch five such actors as they support or interfere with each other between extolling laundry soap or dubbing porn films. The characters are strictly stereotypes - the fruity-voiced old queen, the young hustler, the dim American and the like - and the attempts to give them individuality are rudimentary.

We are told that one is wrapped up in a divorce battle or another has health problems, but we don't really believe it.

There's a minimal plot in the hustler climbing over the others to get jobs and in them joining a strike which they then individually sneak off to violate. At one point they suddenly turn against each other, telling terrible truths, but the moment comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere.

And the nearest thing to jokes are the scenes of them on the job, with voices of unseen clients and advisors interfering. It's funny the first time.

Eventually the show stops making sense even on its own terms. We are repeatedly told that they are only prostituting themselves because they have to pay the rent or school fees or whatever, yet they have enough money to rent the central London flat in which the play is set, just for a place to hang out.

A plot twist depends on one believing he's going to be on a big radio show, and never over a period of weeks having occasion to innocently ring the BBC to check anything. The strike is over an issue that we are specifically told does not yet exist and could not be avoided even with a new contract.

The cast - no need to name and shame - have all been in better vehicles in the past and will no doubt find better work in the future. Right now, like the characters they play, they seem to be in it just for the money.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - All Mouth - Menier 2007


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