BWW REVIEW: 'ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS,' FEW LAUGHS
Written by Richard Bean (based on "The Servant of Two Masters" by Carlo Goldoni), with songs by Grant Olding; directed and staged by Spiro Veloudos; music direction and musical arrangements by Catherine Stornetta; scenic design, Matthew Whiton; costume design, Tyler Kinney; lighting design, Scott Clyve; sound design, Andrew Duncan Will; makeup and hair design, Emily Damron; dialect coach, Nina Zendejas; production stage manager, Nerys Powell; assistant director, Nicky Maggio; assistant stage manager, Margaret Kayes
Dale Place, Charlie "The Duck" Clench; Tiffany Chen, Pauline Clench; Larry Coen, Harry Dangle; Alejandro Simoes, Alan; Aimee Doherty, Dolly; Davron S. Monroe, Lloyd Boateng; Neil A. Casey, Francis; McCaela Donovan, Rachel Crabbe; Dan Whelton, Stanley Stubbers; Harry McEnerny V, Gareth; John Davin, Alfie; Chuong Pham, Barman; James Blaszko, Policeman
Ensemble: James Blaszko, John Davin, Harry McEnerny, Chuong Pham
Performances and Tickets:
Now through October 12, Lyric Stage Company, 140 Clarendon Street, Copley Square, Boston; tickets priced from $25-$65, seniors $10 off, student rush $10; available by calling the Box Office at 617-585-5678 or online at www.lyricstage.com.Richard Bean's rollicking British comedy One Man, Two Guvnors (based on the 1743 Italian farce Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni) was widely praised when it landed on Broadway last season. It was said to deliver non-stop laughs in the high-energy, low-brow styles of Commedia dell' Arte and bawdy British Music Hall. Now the play is making its Boston premiere, and while there are moments of inspired improvisational genius, largely thanks to the at once impish and maniacal Neil A. Casey as the man/servant Francis, this Lyric Stage production lacks the sustained, unabashed, free-wheeling madness to make the comedy really take flight.
With a nonsensical plot more convoluted than the twisted streets of Boston, One Man, Two Guvnors needs to fire on all cylinders in order to make hay of the hash. At the press opening on September 8, the Lyric Stage production was more confusing than comical. Perhaps when the actors have settled more comfortably into their characters and the timing is more finely tuned, the farce will finally gel.
All of the stock characters that were mainstays in the Renaissance-era Commedia dell' Arte form are here, but transplanted to 1960s Brighton, England. We have the "servant" (a clownish Francis Henshall) who hires himself out to two "masters" (Rachel Crabbe, disguised as her street-tough brother Roscoe, and Stanley Stubbers, Rachel's preppy fiancé who also happens to have killed Roscoe); the star-crossed "lovers" (Pauline and Alan, she the sweet but dimwitted daughter of an underworld kingpin and he an addle-pated actor who's fashioned himself after Ringo Starr); and the interfering "elders" (said mob boss Charlie "The Duck" Clench and Alan's pompous lawyer-father Harry Dangle). Rounding out the bill is an amply endowed female "servant" to The Duck (the all-knowing accountant Dolly) who also becomes a comical love interest for the lusty Francis in Act II.