‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ (Captivate Theatre) | Review By Lewis C. Baird

Captivate Theatre bring a brand-new production of Richard Bean’s farcical comedy, ‘One Man Two Guvnors’, to Musselburgh. ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ follows Francis Henshall as he becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End hood, now in Brighton to collect £6,000 from his fiancée’s dad. But Roscoe is really his sister Rachel posing as her own dead brother, who’s been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Holed up at The Cricketers’ Arms, the permanently ravenous Francis spots the chance of an extra meal ticket and takes a second job with one Stanley Stubbers, who is hiding from the police and waiting to be reunited with Rachel. To prevent discovery, Francis must keep his two guvnors apart. The trouble is that Francis Henshall is easily confused! Chaos reigns as he tries to stop his two guvnors from meeting each other. 

Scott Coltman brings us a side-splitting portrayal of Francis Henshall. Instantly from the moment he makes his bold entrance on stage, he has the audience in the palm of his hand. The physical comedy on offer from Scott leaves the audiences in tears, with hysterical laughter being heard echoing through the auditorium. Scott brings a whole new dimension to this role by truly embracing the audience’s involvement in Francis’ story, adding in some hilarious improv and interaction with audience members. The energy and awareness that Scott showcases for this role is astounding, the stamina he has is incredible, there isn’t a drop in energy throughout the two-act play. The role of Francis was originated by James Corden in the National Theatre production, but you would be forgiven for considering Scott Coltman’s portrayal to be greater than that of Corden’s, mainly for Scott’s ephemeral approach that helps resonate the comedy appropriately for each audience. This is a fantastically hilarious portrayal that you do not want to miss. 

Georgia-Lee Roberts truly embraces the alter egos on offer as Rachel Crabbe. As soon as Georgia-Lee walks on stage, the audience are in hysterics, this is mainly due to Georgia’s brilliant exaggerated physical comedy while in the guise of Roscoe Crabbe. The contrast of Rachel’s character is clear from that of Roscoe, and both have their own unique comedic quirks. Georgia’s energy and presence as Rachel is one which audience loved and her dynamic with John Knox’s Stanley Stubbers was the cherry on top of the cake. 

John Knox’s portayal of Stanley Stubbers is tofftastic. John has truly emphasized Stanley’s upper-class characteristics and thrown them headfirst into every comedic piece of dialogue which brings great energy and loads of laughs. John’s dynamic with Coltman’s Francis and Roberts’ Rachel is great fun to watch. 

Craig Lowe gives old geezer vibes as Charlie Clench, brilliantly bringing the sarcastic and rather old fashioned Eastender to life. Craig brilliantly delivers the punchy one liners which the audience lap-up. Sally Cairns is brilliant as the ditsy Pauline Clench, her energy and delivery of Pauline’s confusion is comic gold. Frankie O’Connor’s Alan brilliantly captures the stereotypical “philosophical” actor. Frankie’s choice of movement and exaggerated delivery of the dialogue is just perfectly bonkers. Frankie and Sally’s relationship is also a great sub-plot which is driven by the two performers fantastic dynamic. 

Dannielle Logan radiates humour and power as Dolly. The more grounded approach Dannielle has brought to this character fits as a perfect contrast to that of Francis, which makes the brutal truths and also the unfiltered admissions to the audience so much funnier as they seem so realistic. Also there seems to be an emphasis of female power from this character in comparison to the original production, which is clearly lead by Dannielle, this is a nice change to acknowledge the changes in the ten years since the play debuted. Dolly’s comedic and rather turbulent chemistry with Francis is also another highlight of this production thanks to Scott and Dannielle’s great performances. 

Charlie Munro is hilarious as Alfie the old waiter, every scene he featured in achieved an uproar of laughter, purely due to his physical comedy and outrageous delivery of dialogue. This is a superb performance from Charlie which audiences loved. 

Sandy Queenan gave a solid portrayal of Lloyd, being one of the few characters spliced with realism, observing the farcical events unfold in disbelief, much like the audience. Les Fulton also gave a good portrayal of Harry Dangle, with the old-fashioned middle-class attitude clearly shown, the only thing that could improve this portrayal would be a stronger London accent, as there was a few slips. 

Hazel Beattie supplied stunning accompanying vocals in scene transitions plus hilarious waiting skills.  Frazer Hume accompanied Hazel on piano, bringing fantastic energy into the scene transitions. 

Sally Lyall’s direction of this production relies on the narrative of the play and the performance of the actors to make it the success it is, rather than big-budget set pieces and heavy technical theatre, which the previous production from the National Theatre relied heavily on. This approach to the text really pays off, and perhaps actually suits the play more, with a stripped-back set from Sandy Queenan, plus costume & props from Mairi Cross and Charlotte Nicholson, the audience are at all times engaged in the action due to no distractions from the actor’s performances. Another element that worked was the flexibility of improv and also the awareness of this being a theatre show from Francis (mainly in moments of adlib), which is much greater than the original text or production, this works fantastically and adds greater hilarity plus depth to the production. Richard Bean’s text is one of the best in British theatre history, which humongous characters which all radiate stellar humour, and also encapsulate the commedia del arte that was featured in the original carnation of this text, Goldoni’s ‘The Servant of Two Masters’

Overall, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ is a hysterically funny play which the audience lap up, thanks to the supremely talented actors featured and a new vision from Sally Lyall which offers the play more room for comedy. If you have time to see the last performance tonight (Saturday 12th March) at The Brunton, then please go see it! 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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