BWW Reviews: GA Shakespeare's ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS is as Good as a Summer Comedy Gets
There has barely been a bad word said about this show since it debuted on Broadway in 2012 (racking up seven Tony nominations), but because I didn't know much about it, I took a while to settle into the comedic rhythm of Georgia Shakespeare's production of ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS. However, once I realized that the show was far more farcical than at first I realized, it became one of the most laugh-out-loud, joyous nights of theatre I have had in years. So, if you go and see this show (which you absolutely should), from the outset, simply give into the goofiness; you will thank me when you do.
Despite being an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni's 1743 Commedia dell'arte classic, SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS, this is one of the most appropriate modern shows for a renowned Shakespearean company to produce. ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS has much of the same DNA as many of Shakespeare's comedies; cross-dressing, star-crossed lovers, betrayal, physical comedy, and an overly confusing plot that is secondary to the nonsense and hilarity that the cast creates.
Set in 1963 Brighton, England, the story revolves around a simple-minded man, Francis Henshall, simultaneously trying to hold down two jobs, while not letting his employers know about each other. His first boss, Roscoe Crabbe, is a presumed-dead gangster intent on reclaiming his fiancé (Pauline), whom has already moved on. His other boss, Stanley Stubbers, is on the run from the police for murdering Roscoe.
Calling Aaron Munoz's performance as Henshall a tour de force just wouldn't give what he does on stage the justice it deserves. He is a comedic powerhouse, and seems to thrive on the show's meta relationship with the audience; in which Munoz completely ignores the Fourth Wall and often engages in sections that are either totally or partially unscripted. This is a performance that will undoubtedly define Munoz's young career.
After her scenery chewing performance as Phebe in AS YOU LIKE IT (check out our BWW Atlanta review here), I was quite pleased that the ever enjoyable Ann Marie Gideon took on the larger role of Rachel Crabbe, who is secretly disguised as her actually-dead
identical twin brother Roscoe. The part is fairly thankless, as much of the humor goes to other characters, but when Gideon gets her chances, boy does she land them. Likewise, Joe Knezevich, simply one of Atlanta's best actors on either stage or screen, plays Henshall's other "guvnor" Stubbers, who coincidentally is Rachel's boyfriend. The chemistry between Knezevich and Gideon only enhances each's slap-stick heavy performance.
As Gideon did in AS YOU LIKE IT, Courtney Patterson steals her precious few scenes as the gorgeous, feminist secretary Dolly. Molly Coyne plays Pauline, Roscoe's fiancé, and delivers another charming performance in her first season with Georgia Shakespeare. Also in the fantastic principle cast is Allan Edwards as Pauline's slimy father Charlie "The Duck;" Brian Kurlander as Harry Dangle, The Duck's lawyer; Dangle's son Alan, who is Pauline's aspiring actor true love (played by Justin Walker); and Neal Ghant as an ex-con who learned to do more than cook in prison.
Towards the end of the first act, Munoz, assisted by the always phenomenal Chris Kayser (Gareth) and "Armitage Shakes" (Alfie), leads the cast in a hilarious series of food bits that do absolutely nothing to advance the story, but make for some of the most uproariously funny moments you will ever see on stage.
My fear of audience participation that I mentioned in yesterday's ROCKY HORROR SHOW review was only intensified by this show. I don't want to give too much away, but I will no longer ever sit on the aisle in the first three rows of a theater if I can help it. I also encourage you not to pore over your playbill too intently before the show, or it might diminish some of the fun. Instead, focus on the live pre-show, and interstitial music, from local band The Head, who plays a string of increasingly catchy era-appropriate tunes.
Drew Fracher's direction is swift and hits all of the right comedic moments. Kat Conley's set is massive, which it needs to be to accompany the multiple locations. That is not an easy task, and Conley makes it all work admirably, but the set's size and utilitarianism seems to limit its elegance, and actually makes some of the settings quite clunky.
Like a good summer movie comedy, Georgia Shakespeare's ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS will have you reliving its jokes over and over after you leave the theater; especially the best cucumber-gag since ANIMAL HOUSE. This can't miss comedy runs Tuesday-Sunday until July 27th. So get your tickets at their website or by calling 404-504-1473.
1) Munoz and Gideon | Greg Mooney
2) Kayser, "Shanks," and Munoz | Greg Mooney
3) Knezevich, Gideon, Ghant, and Kurlander | Greg Mooney