How often we feel that our job is going to be the death of us, and our bosses are impossible to please? Try having two bosses and neither one knows about the other. That is the story of Francis Henshall in One Man, Two Guvnors. The play by Richard Bean is a modern English adaptation of the Italian Commedia Dell’ Arte play “A Servant of Two Masters” or Il servitore di due padroni in it’s original Italian by Carlo Goldoni. Who was one of the most respected and remembered Italian playwrights of the 1700’s. Bean’s modern version of the play replaces the Italian locations with Brighton, and brings the time setting up to the 1960’s (which leads for some rather interesting costume choices) and changes the names to more traditional English names.
One Man, Two Guvnors opened at the national theatre in 2011, then moved to the West End later that year. The show moved across the pond to Broadway in 2012 where it scored a slew of Tony Nominations and a win for lead James Cordon as Francis Henshall. Currently the show is being performed at ZACH theatre in a production directed by Abe Reybold. Reybold has created a fast, fun, and flirty show, with a cast of master actors and brillian musicians this show is pure magic.
The show starts long before the curtain rises with the hot sounds of the “The Craze.” A band created for the show, and who fills the night with classic british rock. Each member of the band is well trained and performs with such gusto that you can’t help but want to sing or dance along. My personal favorites of the band were Roger Mason on the Bass who gives a real early beattles feel to the group, not to be outdone is Luke Linstead who share the limelight with Mason as the lead vocalist and rythm guitarist, but who still keeps your attention even as a background singer.
As great as the Craze is the cast is better! Amber Quick as Dolly is sassy, smart, and filled with modern woman power strength. Her moment to put Henshall in his place after he tells her she is a woman and can’t understand everything is theatre gold. Quick’s rant is delivered so powerfully that you are leaving thinking about how we interact with the rest of the world, and yet has you rolling with laughter. Quick is not the only one to steal the show, Andre Martin as Allen Dangle is simply the best, worst actor you’ve ever seen. Martin’s character is Allen a want to be actor who is steeped in the classic actor gimicks of the 1960’s “Acting” scene. When everything was felt from with in and becoming one with the table, or chair, or dog…. you get the idea. Martin over acts and parodies the classic “Actor” personality with superb timing, and flawless delivery. He is fully comited to making a fool of himself and the audience is all the better for it. The entire cast is fantastic and proves that they are true masters of their craft. Every character is fully realized and made to come alive in their own unique way. However no one proves their expect skill like Toby Minor, who created all of the stunts and fight choreography for the show. But it is Minor’s performance as “Alfie” the old waiter with a malfunctioning pace maker is the tops! Minor is so over the top in his physical comedy and yet perfectly understated in his acting that it creates the most noteworthy performance of the night.
As great as all the rest are, there is only one Martin Burke who stars as Francis Henshall, the one man with the two Guvnors. Abe Reybold knew what he was doing when he cast Burke as the shows leading man! The shows biggest triumph comes from Burkes freedom to drive the first head first into a comedy train wreck, and what a ride it is. Burke takes the audience on a wild romp in search of food and later in search of love, and as the old saying goes life isn’t in getting to the destination, it’s enjoying the journey. Burke takes every oportunity to grab a laugh or groan from the audience. The moments where he drops the script are the moments that make this show something more than just a good production, but turn it into an unforgettable comedic romp.
This show from start to finish is worth it’s weight in gold. There is no dull moment with fast paced comedy, brilliant acting, and top notch music. This is a show not to be missed! Get your tickets today before it’s too late!
One Man, Two Guvnors continues through June 26, 2016 Tickets and more information can be found online at the ZACH website. www.zachtheatre.org