Theatre Review: One Man, Two Guvnors


All is not what it seems in the production of One Man, Two Guvnors at Dublin’s Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, says David Mullane.


Writer: Richard Beane

Director: Nicholas Hytner

Cast: Gavin Spokes, Shaun Williamson, Emma Barton, Jasmyn Banks, Alicia Davies

Venue: Bord Gáis Energy Theatre


Slapstick prat falls, audience participation and jokes about ‘skin chimneys’ and ‘chicken balls’ are not what you expect from a touring production by the National Theatre of Great Britain, but it was exactly what was needed on a miserable Monday night in November.

One Man, Two Guvnors is the award-winning, critically acclaimed, most successful comedy produced by the National Theatre in recent years. Directed by Nicholas Hytner and with James Corden originating the lead role of Francis Henshall, the show premiered on the South Bank before moving into the West End, then opening on Broadway and touring the world.

Based on Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 Venetian comedy, One Man, Two Guvnors is the story of a foolish man in 1960s Brighton who winds up in the employ of two different but equally dangerous criminals and his frantic attempts to keep them satisfied and unaware. To continue to describe the plot would drive us all round the twist but it suffice to say that there is cross-dressing, love rivals, a knife fight, and one unforgettable dinner scene.

The comedy is a modern mix of Commedia dell’arte with dashings of Carry On bawdy campness and the farcical freneticism of Fawlty Towers, with a wonderful live band which entertains the house between scene changes and during the pre-show and interval.

The silliness of the show is no mean feat. The physical skills required to perform this style of comedy are quite something and while you may think that the characters on stage are the fools, by the end of the show, you will realise that they have hoodwinked you with some neat and impressive deceits. Without spoiling anything, all is not what it seems in this very clever play.

A wonderfully charming, hilarious and artful romp, One Man, Two Guvnors is both surprising and familiar at the same time, and a solid night out at the theatre.

One Man, Two Guvnors runs at The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre until November 22, booking here.


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