This review was originally written for the Reviews Hub
Writer: Richard Bean:
Original Director: Nicholas Hynter
Tour Director: Adam Penford
Arguably the National Theatre’s most successful production, One Man Two Guvnors is now on its 3rd tour around the UK. Based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, this production takes the audience on a whirlwind few days through the life of Francis Henshall as he takes on two jobs to feed himself after he was sacked from hisskiffle band.
The brilliance of this production is mainly due to the excitement and energy of the strong company who bring it to life. Their ability to squeeze every bit of physical comedy out of the script is recognised and appreciated by the audience. One Man Two Guvnors uses elements of farce, comedy and generous nods towards its roots in Commedia dell‘arte which when put together makes the production have remarkably classic “British” tone and feel, which is rich and ripe for picking.
From scenes of pure slapstick, to scenes that only had a couple of comic one-liners; One Man Two Guvnorsis held together by a strong plot where each character brings a different layer to the production, This, especially true for Edward Hancock who plays Alan Dangle – a wannabe actor, his physicality and vocal skills add to the humour of this stereotypical character.
Richard Bean’s script itself takes a while to unfold, but as soon as it gets going there is no stopping the laughter among the audience especially when the unfolding plot device of mistaken identity comes to force.
Owen Guerin adds a level of immaturity to his character of Francis Henshall while at the same time portraying an intelligent and conniving person who the audience grows to love. This connection between the audience and actor is played on throughout, with many speeches and conversations being delivered directly to the audience. It is Guerin’s endless amount of energy that keeps the frisky pace of the show and holds it together in a tight grip. His physical ability to throw himself around the stage is well received.
Pre-show the audience is entertained by The Craze an onstage Skiffle band that also break up the episodic elements within the production which also see’s the cast join in for the occasional song too, occasionally some of these segments felt a little superfluous to the overall flow of the production but that is a minor point to an otherwise delightful addition to the production.
Ending a comedy can always be a dangerous move for a writer to make and even some of the greatest comedies are criticised for how they end Noises Off being one of the best examples, however this is not the case for One Man Two Guvnors it ends as it began – with boundless amounts of fun and excitement.
One Man Two Guvnors is a fine example of a gloriously comical production and is surely destined to become a noted classic of its genre in the history books of the future.
Runs until 30 August 2014 and then continues to tour the UK