One Man, Two Guvnors
Kicking off the New Wolsey Theatre’s Autumn Season is their co-production with Nuffield Southampton Theatres of One Man, Two Guvnors – and what a strong and hilarious start to the season it is.
The play by Richard Bean is based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant Of Two Masters, with songs by Grant Olding. Knowing that this was the play that helped launch James Corden to new heights – I was very intrigued and excited to see the New Wolsey Theatre put their stamp on it. It certainly lives up to its expectation of a classic British farce.
To make it easy for us – the title pretty much is the plot. Set in Brigton in the swinging sixties, there’s one man, Francis Henshall, with two guvnors; but the challenge is whether he can handle the upkeep of having two bosses at the same time. Can he keep up with their secrets? Will he be able to keep them in their seperate rooms? Will he be able to satisfy his stomach and get the girl he desires in between getting the job done?
For me it ticked all the boxes of what you expect from a comedy play. Walking in we were treated to the live band to get the audience warmed up, and this was a fun element with a great showcase of the skills from the actor-musician led cast. The show continued to have music through-out whilst the set changes happened, and it was a great score with an interesting mix of instruments including a ukulele, kazoo and harmonica to name but a few.
As the show started, it was a little slow to get into the swing of the funny, but I think it was important to not be too much, too soon. The gradual build in silly and laughs gave a stronger impact. To the point by the time we hit interval, the audience definately needed a break from all the laughs and chaos!
The whole cast were on top form. Philip Tomlin shines as Francis Henshall – he gives off a charm and warmth that gets you on his side from the word go. Luke Barton as the stereotypical posh kid Stanley Stubbers has the audience in fits with his throwaway one-liners. Tori Allen Martin brings a brilliant bit of sass and sexiness to Dolly. While Richard Leeming brings a whole new dynamic to physical and slapstick comedy – something that isn’t always easy to get right but he certainly does.
Overall, if you’re looking for an evening of nonsensical laughter, this is the show to see. It was great fun to see that the classic British comedy and farce still lives on and stand strong. In these uncertain times, shows like this are cruical as the world could do with a lot more laughter. Don’t miss it…
One Man, Two Guvnors runs at the New Wolsey Theatre until 28th September. Visit www.wolseytheatre.co.uk for tickets or more information.