★★★ | One Man, Two Guvnors – Sheffield Lyceum and National Tour
Francis Henshall is a con man finds himself in trouble when he ends up working for both an underworld crime lord and a slightly dim toff, without ever letting on that he has two jobs. But the two “guvnors” are not quite what they seem and there is a link between them. Comedic chaos ensues as he is both helped and hindered by a variety of characters and as he tries desperately to keep his bosses apart. But with love beckoning, the promise of a good meal and an increasing number of jobs to complete, will he get the girl?
Presented by the National Theatre, the show was a comedic blend of old fashioned physical comedy, a script packed to the brim of one liners and traditional British farce, all of which had the audience laughing out loud. The comedy was very much traditional British humour – being, at times, reminiscent of the late 70’s comedy performers like Morecombe and Wise and Benny Hill, with the show moving from clever wordplay to slapstick to saucy humour with ease. The over the top characters were boisterous and fun and played heavily on exaggerated stereotypes with success.
Each cast member put in a good performance throughout the show, but the night undoubtedly belonged to Gavin Spokes who put in an excellent performance as the lead character, Francis Henshall. His physical comedy, clever ad libs and delivery of the script combined with his natural charisma were a winning combination. However, closely following him was Michael Dylan with an absolutely hilarious, scene stealing performance as Alfie, the decrepit elderly waiter. It was clear that the cast were thoroughly enjoying themselves and their improvised comments, laughter and interaction with the audience only added to the anarchic atmosphere.
The set was well constructed and detailed, with the scenery being changed behind a gold curtain whist a talented four piece beat combo, The Craze, performed a handful of songs, sometimes joined by various members of the cast. These musical interludes were enjoyable and helped to pace the show as a whole. The sound was clear and allowed the audience to hear clearly what was being said, which was important given the swiftly moving dialogue. Overall, the production values were of a high standard, which is no less than anticipated from this National Theatre Production and the show was surprisingly funny, with the riotous latter half of the first act being the pinnacle of the show, having the audience in absolute fits of laughter.
If any criticism were to be levelled at the show, it is perhaps that it was a little long (with a running time of two hours ten minutes) and whether it would stand repeated viewings is uncertain, but the show was certainly laugh out loud funny and worthy of a watch.
“One Man, Two Guvnors” is currently at the Sheffield Lyceum http://www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk/event/one-man-two-guvnors-14/ until the 24th May 2014 before continuing on its extensive national tour http://www.onemantwoguvnors.com