Review Roundup: ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS on Broadway - All the Reviews!
Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: The production is utterly, profoundly, ridiculously British in its high-low antics and wordplay. There's no need to brush up on Commedia dell'Arte, Christmas pantos, or music-hall ditties to enjoy One Man, Two Guvnors. You'll know smart hilarity when you're guffawing at it.
Matt Windman, AM New York: Although Nicholas Hytner's expertly staged production admittedly loses some steam during Act Two, it remains a riotous delight full of witty verbal wordplay and crude, often gross physical humor. Even the scene changes, during which a snazzy all-male band performs, are full of life.
Jonathan Mandell, The Faster Times: I can picture a lonely member of the audience finding “One Man, Two Guvnors” less funny than the people guffawing in the surrounding seats. Perhaps the English accents will present a barrier, or they will be put off by the show’s willingness to include jokes involving protected classes (the hard-of-hearing, gay people, supporters of Margaret Thatcher), or by the persistent silliness or mildly off-color air: A lawyer character works for the firm of Dangle, Berry and Bush. The most likely scenario is for a theatergoer to be disappointed because of the high expectations set by word of mouth, or reviewers like me, giving the impression that “One Man, Two Guvnors” is the funniest thing on earth.
Linda Winer, Newsday: There's the squeaky dry, silly-smart kind we know from Monty Python, Michael Frayn and Tom Stoppard. I love that kind. Then there is the slapstick, pants-dropping, music-hall, silly-dumb sort that traces its stock-character, low-comedy pedigree back to 16th century Italian commedia dell'arte, English pantomime and, clearly, Laurel (Brit) and Hardy (American). In this, I'm afraid you're on your own. "One Man, Two Guvnors" obviously does what it does deliriously well. More than many trustworthy Londoners declared this among the funniest evenings they've ever had in the theater. On the other hand, there are few experiences lonelier than sitting with a poker face in a hall of laughter.
Brendan Lemon, The Financial Times: London theatrical commentators have fretted that US audiences wouldn’t fully groove to the beat of the play’s British and early-Beatles-era references. But physical comedy, in which the evening abounds, tends to transcend cultural difference. Corden is an inspired clown, and as long as he – and Oliver Chris, as his tall, toffee-nosed guvnor, and Tom Edden, as an ancient waiter – are around the mirth is steady.
Howard Shaprio, The Philadelphia Inquirer: Corden is remarkable in the way he makes his character bamboozle the others and even the theatergoers, swept into the action in several ways that I won’t reveal, except to say that the pranks are cunning. I got the feeling as the show moved on that the audience believed we were no longer onlookers, but were conspiring with the actors to bring the whole thing off — a real feat for the cast and the production.
Michael Sommers, NJ Newsroom: Led by the roly-poly and irresistibly droll Corden – an ebullient performer clad in mismatched checks as the modern-day Harlequin figure –a skilled 16-member ensemble whips through a wacky progression of pratfalls, slapstick nonsense, cheeky doings and assorted other low-comedy capers. It’s all too ridiculous for words so let’s take a pass on detailing the madness that erupts constantly for more than two hours.
Michael Musto, The Village Voice: You wish they'd throw out the second half of the script and just keep rolling around and improvising. Still, Guvnors often has you hoarse from laughing, and allows you the rare chance to brag about seeing something extremely tony that also happens to be incredibly "Benny".
Joe Dziemianowicz, NY Daily News: Can we keep James Corden in New York for good? The young British actor headlining the London import “One Man, Two Guvnors” at the Music Box is so mad talented, adorable and hilarious that you just want more of him. Hello, Actors Equity?
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: Pratfalls, spit takes, puns, improvisation, winking asides, slamming doors, clowning, audience participation, double entendres and triple takes: “One Man, Two Guvnors” leaves no comic stone unturned.
Terry Teachout, Wallstreet Journal: The only part of "One Man, Two Guvnors" that translates effortlessly into the universal language of lunacy is the last scene of the first act, a two-doors-and-one-staircase miniature farce adorned by the presence of Tom Edden, who plays an 87-year-old waiter of the utmost ineptitude. Since the program credits Cal McCrystal as the show's "physical comedy director," I assume that he is mainly responsible for the masterly staging of this bit, which reduced me to helpless howling. If you do see "One Man, Two Guvnors," be forewarned that it's downhill all the way after that.