National Theatre’s award-winning play, One Man, Two Guvnors arrived at The Lowry this week as part of a mammoth UK and Ireland tour. The production is as fresh today as I’ve no doubt it was on the opening night way back in May 2014.
Based on Carlo Goldoni’s ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ Writer Richard Bean’s play is a delight. Slapstick, silliness, song and satire all come together to create this glorious celebration of British comedy. Directed by Nicholas Hytne, his wonderful cast are just the tonic needed to banish those January blues.
One Man, Two Guvnors is without doubt British slapstick comedy at its best…
Fired from his skiffle band, with nothing else on the horizon and no food in his belly, Francis Henshall (Gavin Spokes) takes a job as a minder to the villainous Roscoe Crabbe. But Roscoe, we soon find out is actually Rachel (Alicia Davies), posing as her own dead twin brother who has been murdered funnily enough by her boyfriend, nice but dim Stanley Stubbers (Patrick Warner). Francis is then given the opportunity to take on a second job and work for Stanley and from there the hilarity unfolds as we see his feeble yet fabulously funny attempts to serve his two masters without either of them realising he’s taking home two pay packets.
Gavin Spokes makes a fine Francis, taking on the role made famous by the hugely popular James Corden may have been daunting but if it was Spokes doesn’t show it, his interactions with the audience are a particular highlight. He’s won us over within minutes of making his entrance and despite his bonkers brainwaves we’re immediately willing him to succeed.
Thanks to absolutely brilliant timing, members of the cast somehow manage to survive kicks to the groin, head butts, multiple smacks in the face and even being swung at by a cricket bat. Most abuse is suffered by the brilliant Michael Dylan who gives a wonderful performance as Alfie, the hard of hearing, cataract inflicted, pacemaker dependent elderly waiter who has a knack for standing behind doors just as they are about to be opened. I was actually glad of the interval so I could go and wipe the mascara from my face due laughing so hard I cried!
One Man, Two Guvnors is without doubt British slapstick comedy at its best. With the addition of excellent musical interludes from The Craze (Philip Murray Warson, Oliver Seymour-Marsh, Richie Hart and Billy Stookes) you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun and fabulous night at the theatre.