Patrick Warner, Derek Elroy and Alicia Davies
One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean
Theatre Royal, Brighton – 16 December 2014-4 January 2015
Review by William Mills and Andrew Collins
National Theatre Production
A rollicking slapstick farce is just the thing to counter these winter blues and Richard Bean’s side-splitting play One Man, Two Guvnors performs this task admirably. It’s set in our very own City of Brighton, and harks back to the old Carry On and Ealing Comedies, whilst comprehensively echoing Britain’s vaudeville comedy past. It’s a reworking of Carlo Goldoni’s A Servant of Two Masters, an Italian comedy written in 1743 in the style of Commedia dell’arte.
The central character, Francis Henshall, is played by Gavin Spokes. Henshall , unemployed in Brighton after being fired from his skiffle band, finds himself working for one Roscoe Crabbe, a ne’er-do-well East End gangster type. However, Roscoe is his twin sister, Rachel,(Alicia Davies) masquerading as her murdered brother. Murdered, it transpires, by her rogue boyfriend Stanley Stubbers (Stanley Warners)who is also in hiding in Brighton.
Stanley, unbeknownst to Rachel, also ends up employing Henshall, who must maintain the illusion that each of them is his sole employer- thus the farcical situation is set.
One Man Two Guvnors is primarily physical slapstick and the script reflects this, yet there are some cunning twists and turns……
Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench is superbly played by Norman Pace of TV’s famous Hale and Pace, and Eastender’s star Emma Barton is a convincing Dolly.
Designer Mark Thompson did a good job making the set look realistically professional.
A truly excellent play. The laughter hit the roof. The theatre was packed and by the interval people were saying their ribs were hurt because they had never laughed so much in all their lives!
A excellent choice to get Christmas festivities off to a hilarious start. Well done Theatre Royal Brighton!