Cambridge's leading amateur theatre production company

Established 1981

One Man, Two Guvnors
by Richard Bean   directed by sean Baker

The ADC Theatre, Cambridge,  July 2016

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Reviews of One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors will leave you with aching ribs and a huge smile on your face, says Freya Leng - Cambridge News 14 Jul 2016

Based on the classic Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, this new English version by playwright Richard Bean does not fail to bring a smile to your face. And keeps you guessing. The opening night at the ADC Theatre had surprising audience interaction and witty skiffle music in between scenes which got everyone clapping. The play centres round an opportunist man, Francis (Alan Hay) who went from having no jobs to two jobs - and two guvnors.

After getting a job as minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End crook which turns out to be his twin sister Rachel (Esme Mahoney) in disguise, he has his work cut out. Driven by the need for a good meal, he then falls into second job with Stanley Stubbings (Rory Lowings) Rachel's boyfriend who murdered Roscoe. Permanently hungry Francis is sent on errands to the post office, ironing and collecting money all on an empty stomach which makes him all the more confused and likely to make mistakes. And to make things worse he has to try and keep them both apart to avoid discovery which is hard when they are both staying at the same pub. There are many misunderstandings which kept us laughing throughout.

A particularly angry and camp waiter, theatrical actor Alan (Jonathan Totman) who's in love with the dozy Pauline (Alex Ciupka) and innuendo-ridden Dolly (Izzy Rees) all make for memorable characters. Rory Lowings who in my eyes stole the show, was fantastic at playing the 'man who's been to boarding school', Stanley, who really hams it up with exclamations like 'eggs and bacon' and 'Country Life'.

The skiffle music was infectious, songs like Haddock and Chips and Mushy Peas were ten a penny and we loved them. Musician Barry Brown had particular talent at playing the wash board, which could be cheeky as well as tuneful. Thoroughly entertaining, we laughed throughout.

One Man, Two Guvnors
Reviewed by Nick Warburton

One Man, Two Guvnors is Richard Bean's free and frantic reworking of Carlo Goldoni's 1743 play The Servant of Two Masters. You can see the plot right there in those titles: one man juggling his life while two bosses make extreme demands on him. It's plate-spinning and it needs to start fast and get faster. Which is exactly what we got from Sean Baker's sparkling production at the ADC this week.

Richard Bean's decision to relocate the play to 1963 England pays off splendidly. We have dodgy geezers (Martin George looked and sounded as if born for the role of Charlie Clench), the Great British class system (an absolutely top-drawer toff from Rory Lowings as Stanley Stubbers), cricket and pubs and Woolworth's, all set in the seaside surrounds of a slightly seedy Brighton. Bean has also spiced his script with some brilliant one-liners and running gags.
All the characters here were clearly defined: broad, as they needed to be, yet played with control. Esme Mahoney gave us a louche and lairy Rachel Crabbe, simultaneously dangerous and vulnerable; Jonathan Totman was that rarity at the ADC a gloriously hammy thespian; Guy Marshall fell over and got knocked about as Alfie, the indomitable and very funny elderly waiter; Izzy Rees, who understood everything as Dolly, and Alex Ciupka, who understood nothing as Pauline Clench, were also impressive. But there wasn't a weak link in a cast who played for each other and whose enjoyment was infectious.

In support of all this we had an expertly rumbustious skiffle combo, under Mike Milne's skilful leadership, to entertain us between scenes; hair and costume that took me right back to the sixties; sets (by Sarah Phelps and Jonathan Spriggs) which provided place and atmosphere; good lighting and well-timed comedy sound and special effects. (I assume the giant fart was a sound effect.) The movement dances and moments of jokey violence showed clever hands at work (Emma Olley's and Andy Waller's).

(I've never seen a policeman walk quite like Joe Shaw's policeman did but there was something joyously compelling and entirely appropriate about it on Friday night.) Have I said all? Of course not. You couldn't undertake a play like this without a decent Francis Henshall, the One Man of the title.

Francis is the pivot. He has to be quick on his toes and nimble of mind. He must be able to connect with the audience and get them on his side. And he needs a huge amount of energy. Alan Hay had all this and more. He made a splendid Francis larger than life and likeable.
There was also a quality of innocence about his character that added something significantly extra. Congratulations to him and to Sean Baker and Bawds for bringing such delight to a difficult July.

(Incidentally, Stanley Stubbers tells me that, when the play went to New York, one of the
trunk-carrying volunteers from the audience was Donald Trump. What an opportunity they had before them then!)