ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS
by Richard Bean based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni.
National Theatre tour to 21 March 2015.
Runs: 2hr 30min One interval.
Review: Alan Geary 27 January at Theatre Royal Nottingham.
Everything we already know about the sparkle of this National Theatre production is still on offer. It’s remarkable.
Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors is the latest of many adaptations of The Servant of Two Masters, Carlo Goldoni’s 1746 comedy, originally set in Venice. Bean changes names and many plot details, in an inspired move relocating the whole caper to 1963 Brighton – London’s gangland by the sea.
Nicholas Hytner’s production doesn’t turn its back on the spirit of the original. There’s a touch of Victorian melodrama; more importantly, the thwarted lovers and the girl unconvincingly disguised as her brother recall Shakespearean comedy; there’s even thematic depth and a certain beauty in some of the fast and furious text. And with the wily servant trying to dupe his two masters, it’s also firmly embedded in the commedia dell’Arte.
Gavin Spokes’s Henshall is outstanding. Though a tad more portly than some of his predecessors in the role, his performance ranges from outlandishly energetic physical comedy and cunning slow realisations to ad-libbing with the audience, and much more.
t’s highly pantomimic in places: characters step down-stage to confide in the audience, and there’s a lot of outrageous audience involvement, some of it nicely bogus.
There’s remarkable depth in the casting. Edward Hancock is terrific as histrionic would-be actor Alan Dangle, Patrick Warner as ex-public schoolboy Stanley Stubbers and Derek Elroy as Lloyd Boateng (ex-Parkhurst).
Michael Dylan as Alfie, an 87-year-old waiter with a pace-maker, has some of the best moments. He’s an appallingly non-PC caricature who gets smacked about and banged with doors. There’s a cracking line when we’re informed by another down-trodden waiter “It’s his first day”.
The text is packed with bad taste. Gangster Charlie “the Duck” Clench (Norman Pace), referring to know-nothing daughter Pauline (Jasmyn Banks), tells us “They tried, but they can’t make bricks thicker”.
The scenery – a (tasteless) vertically elongated hotel interior and some well-observed Brighton exteriors – adds a lot of fun. So does the four-man skiffle-group, complete with washboard, which for one number transmogrifies into a Beatles tribute band.
Pace and inventiveness sag a bit after the classic lunch-serving routine, the comedic core. But from end to end this production delivers joyous, first-class entertainment.
Dolly: Emma Barton.
Lloyd Boateng: Derek Elroy.
Charlie Clench: Norman Pace.
Pauline Clench: Jasmyn Banks.
Harry Dangle: David Verrey.
Alan Dangle: Edward Hancock.
Francis Henshall: Gavin Spokes.
Rachel Crabbe: Alicia Davies.
Stanley Stubbers: Patrick Warner.
Gareth: Elliot Harper.
Alfie: Michael Dylan.
Ensemble: Lace Akpojaro, Owen Guerin, Mark Hayden, Katherine Moraz, Catherine Morris and Joseph O’Malley.
Original Director: Nicholas Hytner.
Tour Director/Choreographer: Adam Penfold.
Designer: Mark Thompson.
Lighting: Mark Henderson.
Sound: Paul Arditti.
Music/Songs: Grant Olding.
27-31 Jan Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Wed 2pm Sat 2.30pm Theatre Royal Nottingham 0115 989 5555 www.trch.co.uk
3-7 Feb 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Captioned Wed Churchill Theatre Bromley 0844 871 7620 www.atgtickets.com/venues/the-churchill-theatre-bromley
10-14 Feb 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm New Theatre Cardiff 029 2087 8889 www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk
17-21 Feb 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm Audio-described/BSL Signed Fri; Captioned Thu 7.30pm Festival Theatre Edinburgh 0131 529 6000 www.edtheatres.com
24-28 Feb 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm New Theatre Oxford 0844 871 3020 www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-theatre-oxford
2-7 March 7.30pm Mat Thu & Sat 2.30pm BSL Signed Thu 7.30pm New Wimbledon Theatre 0844 871 7646 www.atgtickets.com/venues/new-wimbledon-theatre
10-14 March 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Audio-described Sat 2.30pm Grand opera House York 0844 871 3024 www.atgtickets.com/venues/grand-opera-house-york
17-21 March 7.30pm Mat Wed & Sat 2.30pm Grand Theatre Wolverhampton 01902 429212 www.grandtheatre.co.uk