What we thought of The National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors

Richard Bean’s farce One Man, Two Guvnors is an English adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s Servant of Two Masters. Following the original commedia dell’arte style, Bean replaces 1743 Italy with 1963 Brighton and the hilarity ensues.

Francis Henshall is an out of work skiffle player, who soon finds himself in the employment of two different guvnors, gangster Roscoe Crabbe and upper-class toff Stanley Stubbers. The plot soon gets twisted as Francis tries to stop the two from ever meeting each other and finding out that he is working for both of them at the same time. If things weren’t complicated enough, Roscoe is actually Rachel Crabbe in disguise, because her twin brother Roscoe had been murdered by her boyfriend, queue Stanley Stubbers. Local crook Charlie the Duck had arranged his daughter Pauline’s engagement to Roscoe, even though she is in love with melodramatic amateur dramatic actor Alan Dangle. The rest of the action is centred around Francis getting everything wrong whilst he lusts first after food and secondly after Dolly the feminist bookkeeper.

This is the type of show that once you’ve seen it your memory of the first experience watching it soon comes flooding back once the action starts. The larger than life characters, the quick-witted dialogue and the physical comedy all make for a couple of hours of exceptional entertainment at the theatre.

The National Theatre treated audiences on Thursday 2nd April via YouTube to a performance of One Man, Two Guvnors filmed live in 2011 with the original West End cast. After its initial West End run, it moved to Broadway with James Corden continuing in the main role as Francis Henshall. Corden even picked up a Tony Award for best leading actor in 2012.

Alongside Corden the original cast included Oliver Chris as Stanley Stubbers, Jemima Rooper as Rachel Crabbe, Suzie Toase as Dolly, Fred Ridgeway as Charlie Clench (who sadly passed away in 2012), Claire Lams as Pauline Clench, Daniel Rigby as Alan Dangle, Martyn Ellis as Harry Dangle, Trevor Laird as Lloyd Boateng, Tom Edden as Alfie and David Benson as Gareth.

In a time where our theatres have closed, where so many creatives have been left facing uncertainty in the past couple of weeks, The National Theatre chose one of the best shows to cheer us all up. With everything that is going on, tuning in with numerous other theatre lovers across the country to watch a brilliant piece of theatre from the safety of the sofa really did feel special.

The National Theatre will stream Jane Eyre at 7pm GMT on Thursday 9th April from their YouTube channel.

Missed One Man, Two Guvnors? Catch up here

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About Author /

Kath is an actor, singer and writer with a passion for theatre. She has been reviewing for At The Theatre since 2014. Kath has a Masters in Performance at Liverpool Hope University and is Creative Engagement Worker for B arts, a participatory arts organisation.

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