Wednesday, February 27, 2013

REVIEW: One Man, Two Guvnors

HK Academy of Performing Arts Lyric Theatre, Wednesday February 20

A lot has been said about One Man, Two Guvnors since it premiered at the National Theatre (UK) in 2011. This play by Richard Bean is an English adaptation of the 1743 Commedia dell'arte comedy play by the Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, Il servitore di due padroni (Servant of Two Masters). This adaptation replaces the Italian period setting of the original with Brighton in 1963. Like its Italian precursor, the story is about one easily bewildered servant who was employed separately by two men. In this adaptation, however, the profession of the characters has been molded to the 1960’s gangster underworld theme.

While I heard a lot of good things about it, I tried not to read any reviews. But still, my expectation is very high as friends in London seemed to really enjoyed it. Overall, this is a very good example of what an adaptation should be. The main architecture was maintained; and while it continues to be a story of an earlier period, the sensibilities were modern. This production directed by Nicholas Hytner was very polished. The combination of music hall, pantomime and variety show was beautifully woven into each other and is the strength of this show. The songs of Grant Olding sat perfectly with the era and truly added that special sheen to the production.

The capacity and the ability of the actors to make people laugh and laugh at themselves within an exact framework is the secret of this production. The comedy employs breaking the fourth wall, inviting audience on stage (and making fun of them), slapstick and corpsing (unintentionally breaking character during a scene by laughing or by causing another cast member to laugh) to name a few. All were executed with fine precision including the corpsing, which looked forced and unnecessary in some moments.

Personal favorite was the well known scene wherein the minder Francis Henshall (Owain Arthur) was requested to serve two dinners simultaneously. Arthur was at his best here, where he bounced around torn between serving and at the same time stealing food. This scene was made even funnier with wonderful Peter Caulfield's Alfie, a slow and deaf octogenarian waiter with a pacemaker!

Overall, One Man, Two Guvnors is funny and entertaining and is higly recommended!

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One Man, Two Guvnors
A National Theatre of Great Britain Production
A play by RICHARD BEAN based on The Servant of Two Masters by CARLO GOLDONI
Songs by GRANT OLDING

Creative Team:
Directed by NICHOLAS HYTNER
Physical Comedy Director CAL MCCRYSTAL
Revival Director ADAM PENFORD
Designer MARK THOMPSON
Lighting Designer MARK HENDERSON
Music and Songs GRANT OLDING
Sound Designer PAUL ARDITTI
Fight Director KATE WATERS

Cast Includes:
OWAIN ARTHUR, Francis Henshall
EDWARD BENNETT, Stanley Stubbers
AMY BOOTH-STEEL, Dolly
PETER CAULFIELD, Alfie
NICK CAVALIERE, Harry Dangle
COLIN MACE, Charlie Clench
MARK MONERO, Lloyd Boateng
KELLIE SHIRLEY, Pauline Clench
LEON WILLIAMS, Alan Dangle
MATTHEW WOODYATT, Gareth
ROSIE WYATT, Rachel Crabbe

THE CRAZE: RICHIE HART (Music Director/bass) OLIVER SEYMOUR-MARSH (guitars) BILLY STOOKES (drums) PHILIP MURRAY WARSON (lead vocal/guitar)

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