One Man, Two Guvnors, One Hundred Jokes
The Westpac Season of
The National Theatre of Great Britain’s
One Man Two Guvnors by Richard Bean
Songs by Grant Oldimg
Auckland Arts Festival
Until March 23
There was a lot of hype and advertising around One Man Two Guvnors, the big theatre piece for the Auckland Arts Festival which was taking the world by storm. I got the impression it was some new, radical, political cutting-edge piece. It isn’t.
This is theatre that most people would say was proper theatre: entertaining, plot lines which can be followed relatively easily, standard issue sets and a cast of lively villains, simpletons and lovers.
The play which is set in 1960s Brighton owes a little to Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock but is mainly a reworking of the 18th-century Italian play The Servant and Two Masters by Goldoni.
Francis Henshaw finds himself with two jobs, working for two shady characters whom he realises must not get to see each other or realize he is working for both of them.
He spends his time running between errands and meetings, trying to explain the knotty situations he has created and trying to find something to eat.
It’s all great farce, with hilarious visual and verbal jokes. Mixed in are some vaudeville items featuring the band The Craze, along with items by the actors playing a variety of instruments.
And then there is the audience involvement, which at time gets out of hand, and there is a running joke initiated by a member of the audience who offers a hummus sandwich to the starving Francis.
The whole riotous work is held together by the enthusiastic acting of Owain Arthur as Francis, who is ably supported by a remarkably talented cast, making it a hugely enjoyable night out.