All Mouth at the Menier Chocolate Factory
Four actors share a flat in Soho during working hours. Their fluctuating relationships are as out of the ordinary as their employment.
They are voice over artists attempting to fight the voices of the future which, from the sound of things, will invariably be digital ones.
There are some fine performances in this five person play, most notable amongst them, that of consummate actor, Christopher Benjamin who takes on the multi-faceted role of Digby, a character who alternately functions as leader and proverbial door-mat for this plucky little group of gropers, mopers and no hopers. His impressive acting range gets a welcome airing as he easily guides the audience from p to pathos. Fellow acting trouper Paddy is naturalistically played by Simon Chandler. Scenes between these two actors are amongst the productions finest moments. Hilarious, ring of truth scenes in which various out of work actors, amongst them Caroline Harker as Mel, struggle to follow relentlessly precise instructions from multiple directors in order to get just the right inflection into their delivery in order to encourage punters to crave the products they're representing provide memorable moments. Nigel Whitmey is convincingly glib and seemingly, inadvertently funny as ‘token colonist' Greg. His scene in which he almost visibly sweats while practicing for an East Enders audition is priceless. James Russell is all feigned innocence and cool amiability as opportunist on the spot Rod who quickly swings in whichever direction in which opportunities present themselves.
Apart from a belaboured scene with needlessly smutty dialogue at the opening of the second act, of the Love Actually ilk, and a few gratuitous, out of character lines of dialogue for some of the play's more discerning individuals, this production manages to make some valid points about human scruples or lack thereof while providing an amiable evening's entertainment. My only other possible gripe is that Mel, the lone female character in the play seems more like a paper doll at times than a breathing thinking woman, but perhaps this is intentional in light of the all's fair in the advertising and struggling actor's world bents of Lewis and Foster's play. Jonathan Lewis' variegated direction enables the actors to make the most of their comic scenes as well as poignant ones, the latter of which are acted with great finesse and depth of feeling by Christopher Benjamin. All things considered, All Mouth is a very entertaining night out.