BWW Reviews: ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS, Lyceum, Sheffield 15 May 2014
The National Theatre's production of One Man, Two Guvnors is currently on an extensive tour of the country. This version stars Gavin Spokes as Francis Henshall, the man caught between two guvnors, and he is ably supported by a cast of familiar faces, including three former EastEnders stars (Jasmyn Banks as Pauline, Shaun Williamson as Charlie and Emma Barton as Dolly).
For the uninitiated, Richard Bean's play is a 1960s-set farce based on Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters. Whilst it contains all the traditional elements of farce (capering about, physical comedy, bawdy humour, misunderstandings etc), it also has a lot of fun playing with the genre, with plenty of fourth-wall breakage and an increasingly crazy set of musical interludes. Although the first scene doesn't really set the world on fire, once the plot kicks in and the audience begin to discover the play is deliberately having a lot of fun with them, it becomes hilarious - people were laughing so hard they cried on the night I went.
The cast are all incredibly energetic and clearly having a lot of fun with their larger-than-life characters. Spokes is fantastic in the lead role, relishing the absurdity of the situation whilst establishing a great rapport with the audience in his many asides. He has a real knack for physical comedy - as do many of the supporting cast, particularly Alicia Davies as Rachel, Michael Dylan (who you may remember as the secret actor in a recent series of Big Brother) as Alfie and Patrick Warner as Stanley.
The sets are wonderfully designed, with one in particular leaving you spending the whole play trying to figure out how they managed to make it work. The musical interludes that accompany scene changes are fun and there are some fantastic wigs on display throughout.
This is a riotous play that may not be the most revolutionary piece of theatre ever written, but is a surefire win if you want an entertaining night out.
One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Lyceum, Sheffield until 24 May and on tour nationally until March 2015. See http://www.onemantwoguvnors.co.uk/on-tour/ for dates and venues.