REVIEW: ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS (Bridewell Theatre) ★★★★★
I first saw this hilarious play during its third UK tour, in early 2015. It is a modern adaptation of SERVENT OF TWO MASTERS – the classic Carlo Goldoni play – and Richard Bean’s script is both exceedingly clever and witty. As such, I was looking forward to seeing it a second time immensely – and in the end I enjoyed Sedos’ production just as much.
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS is set in Brighton, 1963, and centres around the young Francis – a fairly dim-witted man who is low on cash and, even worse, has had to go without breakfast. His current employer is holding out on paying him until the end of the week and so when Francis bumps into Stanley Stubbers – a newcomer to Brighton who is as stereotypically British as they come – he seizes the opportunity to offer his services and ends up with two employers. Neither employer must know about the other – and of course, Francis soon gets confused with what tasks he is completing for which guvnor and inevitably there are hilarious consequences.
To add to the comedy, Francis is also something of an anti-hero. He is only ever out for himself, but of course, everything consistently backfires on him.
When I originally saw the show, my favourite character was the very-British Stanley Stubbers and it has remained so in this production. Played beautifully by Theo Leonard, I was in stitches nearly every time he spoke, moved, or basically did anything. But there are so many hilarious characters in this production, both lead and supporting roles and they were all portrayed by an incredibly strong cast.
Sedos is an amateur dramatic company, but the acting is easily on par with the professional show I saw previously. In fact, having seen Sedos in action before, it seems they are once again blurring the lines between professional and amateur theatre. In particular, they prove that the quality of a show is determined by those involved – and not whether anyone is getting paid.
Sedos has also done well to stage a play that is set in a number of locations. It has used a fairly minimalist set, but it is scarcely noticeable as the actors bring so much energy and life to the stage.
This production is Alex Baker’s directorial debut, and it is a triumph for him. Not only is the direction fluid, but he has maintained the fun which he states he experienced when he first saw the show himself.
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS has a lot to offer – clever writing, farce, good-humoured stereotypes, audience participation, music, dancing, singing and some slapstick thrown in for good measure. Sedos has done well to produce a fantastic performance of one of the funniest shows around and I would urge anyone who’s in the mood for laughing to get out and see this!
Reviewed by Rachel Watts @WIAAProductions
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS plays at the Bridewell Theatre until 8 October 2016