Review by James Mukheibir
Some may credit One Man, Two Guvnors for the rise of James Corden but that should not be held against this show. It is classic, and one of the staples of slapstick British comedy, arriving on the New Theatre stage from director Angus Evans. It lands at the iconic Newtown venue with energy and commitment to the comedic cause that has the actors dripping in sweat as they put their bodies on the line in the name of good, old-fashioned entertainment.
Performed on one of the most beautiful sets in recent memory, designed and hand painted by Jess Zlotnick, this show pops with chemistry, with each of the actors delivering engaging and dynamic performances. Throughout the cast, there is such impressive accent work that it is surprising to see that there is no dedicated dialect coach listed in the team. A fight choreographer is listed however, in Diego Ratameles, and they absolutely deserve their flowers with the slapstick conflict delivering some of the wonderful sequences of physical comedy that the script hinges on. These sequences are executed with a precision and commitment by the cast that is rarely seen outside of the big leagues.
Additionally, the clowning skills of Tristan Black and Naser Ali were especially excellent and iced a cake of immensely talented and funny actors from top to bottom. Black deserves even further credit for his stamina, carrying the show on his back with comedic control that whisked the audience along for the raucous ride.
The show is a non-stop romp, from the moment the audience enters and are welcomed by a live band delivering a funky, skiffle-style mash up of modern songs having everyone in the audience nodding along and jiving in their seats. Georgia Condon, Georgia Drew and Matt Forbes held the audience in the palm of their hand, as the three piece brought some serious groove from start to finish. They were vital in keeping the energy high during set changes and providing an occasional welcome moment to take a breath before diving back into the frenetic events in Brighton.
The gags come thick and fast, with the audience favorite being the relentless slander towards Australia. Most landed, in particular those involving “audience interaction” on stage, however some were a little indulgent, stunting the flow of the already long show. The less tolerable of the unsuccessful bits were more of the misogynistic variety. These had a tendency to slightly deflate the room and while they are often defended in scripts such as this as “of the time”, it is hard to see what purpose they serve. It feels reductive to reiterate the tired patriarchal structures that we all should be looking to move past, and if for no other reason, because sexist comedy is lazy and boring.
That being said, this is a very well executed production of One Man, Two Guvnors and the work of the entire cast and crew shines in an overall very enjoyable adventure, full of laughs a plenty.
Image Credit: Clare Hawley