When something is described as funny, I tend to be slightly dubious. Actually that’s a bit of an understatement I sort of sit there all arrogant and think well I’m sure you won’t make me laugh with my superior sense of humour and cutting wit, it takes a lot to get me giggling. Therefore, when I went to see the play One Man, Two Guvnors at London’s Haymarket Theatre, I must admit I had some reservations.
How wrong I was.
So I was a little out of my comfort zone in that my options for something to do are generally dictated by what’s on at the cinema at the weekend but going to the theatre to see an actual play (not a musical) has opened up a whole new wealth of culture. Rarely do I even think about going to see a play, let alone actually going, that I almost missed out on this little gem.
Sometimes reviews can be so hyperbolic that you end up wondering how good can it actually be? However, I’m afraid I’m going to have to jump on the One Man…. bandwagon here and agree with everything that has been said about this play: it really is hilarious.
Now if you’ve heard the name One Man, Two Guvnors, but you’re not sure where, you may be a little clearer if I say the name James Corden to you. Winning a Tony Award back in 2012 for his part as Francis Henshall, the Gavin and Stacey actor hopped over the pond to Broadway to delight and entertain audiences with this comic role, leaving some huge shoes to fill. Initially the play was promoted using Corden’s understudy which is virtually unheard of in the theatre, (however if you were lucky enough to see Owain Arthur as Henshall you’ll know that he managed just fine), but with Arthur leaving to lead the cast of the international tour, the West End production has been left with a massive hole to fill.
Stand up Rufus hound. The comedian and TV presenter has taken over the role as of 4th February 2013 and the comic appeal of the show has not suffered in any way. Physically demanding and at times linguistically challenging, Hound has taken to the role like a duck to water and if you’ve been lucky enough to see him as Henshall you’ll be left wondering how they could have replaced Corden with anybody else.
Set in the criminal underbelly of Brighton 1963, the play adapted by Richard Bean from the original Italian Servant of Two Masters is a complicated tale of mistaken identity and disguise with Francis Henshall gaining employment from two men but not wanting to let on to either of them. Cue the comic entanglement that comes from trying to please two people at the same time. Deception is rarely straightforward which means this is a play that not only entertains but also leaves you gasping for air a little bit (particularly through the interaction with the audience that only a comedian could turn to his advantage) because breathing normally and laughing hysterically at the same time is tricky to do silently.
So if you live in London and you’re looking for something cultural to do, (but you’re not quite ready for Shakespeare) I can’t recommend this play enough. If you’re thinking about visiting, definitely put this play at the top of your list of things to see.