One Man, Two Guvnors, currently playing at the Queen’s Theatre is set in Brighton in 1963. This play is modern reworking of the classic play ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ by Carlo Goldoni. That said this is one of the funniest plays I have seen in years; a mixture of Carry On, Brian Rix Farce and Panto.
The one liners and innuendo are side splitting and the audience I was with just laughed until they cried! Although this is a play, there is a superb musical accompaniment which adds atmosphere to the period; the sound of a skiffle band, complete with washboard certainly brought nostalgia back to many of us that night.
Our modern day Harlequin is Francis Henshall, a failed musician and a man with an unfulfilled appetite, takes on the role of minder to small time crook Roscoe Crabbe. However, what Francis does not know is that Roscoe has been murdered and his twin sister Rachel has donned his clothes and is masquerading as him!
Now Rachel is in love with the man who has murdered her twin brother Roscoe; the rather upper class twit Stanley Stubbers . Unwittingly as the play moves on Francis takes the job of working for Stanley and so the farce begins!
The opening scene is set in Charlie “The Duck” Clench’s house with an engagement party for his scatty daughter Pauline to Alan the would be Thespian, son of Charlie’s rather iffy solicitor Harry Dangle. Also present are Lloyd Boateng, ex Parkhurst inmate and friend of Charlie, and Dolly, Charlie’s secretary .
The arrival of Francis and his tale of Roscoe still being alive throws a spanner in the works. Hysterics by Pauline, rampant thespianism by Alan, and Charlie muttering that he couldn’t waste the sausage rolls!
Francis, still trying to get food for his rumbling stomach then embarks on trying to serve his Two Guvnors, with incredible energy and a little bit of audience participation he manages to keep the two from knowing and mixing things up along the way.
All finishes well and our hero has skinned his Two Guvnors for money to take Dolly to Majorca . I won’t say more because you need to experience this show as words can’t do it justice.
The scenes move from sea front to hotel rooms to Charlie’s house with help from slick scene changes and the integration of The Rozzers Skiffle Band, who play pre show and in the interval and really enhance the evening’s entertainment. Davis O’Reilly as Francis and his alter ego Paddy is absolutely brilliant, his energy, one liners and and working of the audience was a joy to behold.
David Cardy as Charlie carries an old fashioned dodgy geezer about him perfectly with Ivan Stott as solicitor Harry Dangle the perfect foil for him. Stanley Stubbers our second Guvnor , and toff, is played to perfection by George Kemp, it could easily have been over played but this was spot on.
The whole cast deserves praise especially when jumping out and playing musical interludes. An evening certainly of fun and frolics and one not to be missed. I saw this in the West End some years back but this, for me, surpassed that. Thank you Queen’s Theatre .