June 10, 2012

One Play, Many Laughs

One Man, Two Guvnors is Richard Bean's adaptation of  The Servant of Two Masters.  He has moved the action from Venice to Brighton, which can only mean one thing:  brilliant British buffoonery! Directed by Nicholas Hytner, it stars Tony nominated James Corden (from The History Boys) as Francis Henshall (the one man). He is employed by the cross-dressing Rachel Crabbe played by Jemima Rooper (don't ask!).  And the haughty Stanley Stubbers (Oliver Chris).  The plot is ridiculously convoluted, but all you  need to know is that Francis is always famished and doesn't want his guvnors to ever find out that he is serving two masters.  The raucous dinner scene that closes the first act is farce at its finest, and I have never laughed so hard since The Book of Mormon.
Visual gags, slapstick, pratfalls, music, witty dialogue with some improv and audience participation thrown in,  What's not to like in this inventive show?  The cast is outstanding, most of whom came from the National Theatre's original production.  The jovial James Corden is winning and has a penchant for physical comedy. (Kudos to their physical comedy director, Cal McCrystal.) Tom Edden as 80 year old waiter Alfie chomped the scenery, also earning a Tony nod.  Daniel Rigby is perfect as  Alan Dangle, a wannabe actor with all sorts of theatrical affectations .  Oliver Chris played an arrogant snob.  It's worth mentioning that the charming Mr. Corden's ad libbing even cracked up his fellow actors.
As if the laughs aren't enough in this original play, it also features The Craze, a skiffle band composed of Jason Rabinowitz, Austin Moorehead, Charlie Rosen, and Jacob Colin Cohen.  The band made for some of the most inspired scene changes I have ever seen. I had a rollicking good time watching this insanely funny, silly, and feel-good show.

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