Tuesday, 20 September 2011

One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors is a retelling by Richard Bean of Carlo Goldoni’s classic comedy, The Servant of Two Masters. The action has been moved from Italy of 1746 to Brighton of 1962. While retaining the farce structure of the original, Bean gives the play a very British comedy makeover. This is less Commedia dell’arte and more Up Pompeii and Carry on. One Man, Two Guvnors is two and a half hours of unapologetic silliness and fun. Never have I seen a National Theatre audience enjoy themselves so much and laugh so loudly.

This production (directed by Nicholas Hytner) combines physical and verbal comedy with such wit and imagination that the audience can relax in the knowledge that it is going to be entertained. The scenes with an octogenarian waiter serving soup still has the power to make me smile twenty four hours later. James Corden (of Gavin and Stacey fame) almost steals the show, with his insatiable appetite for food and buxom women – it is a very funny performance – but this is an ensemble piece, with every actor milking their caricatures for all they are worth. The actors appear to be enjoying themselves as much as the audience.

One Man, Two Guvnors has no big message, no existential angst. It is just great fun. Panto for adults and an antidote to Puritanism. One Man, Two Guvnors tranfers to the West End in November. Treat yourself. Fun is good.

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