Author Topic: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre  (Read 7599 times)

Offline HtoHe

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One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« on: August 07, 2011, 12:11:22 am »
I was attracted to this, despite its awful title, by the name of Richard Bean whose The Big Fellah impressed me at Liverpool Playhouse earlier in the year.  It’s well worth seeing though I suspect its sold-out notices owe less to RB than to Jemes Corden (Smithy out of Gavin and Stacey).

The play is a free adaptation of  Carlo Goldoni’s Il Servitore di due Padroni with conscious forays into the commedia dell'arte tradition using devices like improvisation, music, acrobatics, audience involvement etc.  Corden was pretty resourceful here, though not, to my mind, entirely natural - you could almost hear his brain ticking over at times.  He is Francis Henshall, the ‘one man’ of the title, and his 'two guvnors' are the patrician Stanley Stubbins played by Oliver Chris with a bit too much of Rik Mayall’s Flasheart to be entirely original and ‘Roscoe’ Crabbe a dead gangster impersonated by his sister Rachel – Jemima Rooper in a cross-dressing role.  One might think the gamine Ms Rooper would be ideal as a male impersonator but for me it didn’t work. Obviously the audience is meant to be in on the secret but I couldn’t help thinking none of the ‘victims’ of her deception would have been fooled for a minute by this petite, high-voiced hoodlum so even the limited suspension of disbelief required for farce was difficult,  She was more like a pantomime principal boy.  Suzie Toase as another stock character - the ott man-eater, Dolly - was much better, I thought.   

The play itself is very entertaining with its threadbare plot stretched for all it was worth (a lot more than it was worth, to be honest) to contain broad humour, wry social comment, acrobatics – the pratfalls of Tom Edden as ancient waiter Alfie are a show in themselves – and the compulsory batch of tender love stories. A live skiffle band (The Craze) covers warm-ups ( they’re playing as the audience take their seats) and scene changes and most of the principals provide a musical act of sorts themselves – the three femaile leads as a close harmony Beverley Sisters type group are a delight.

Once again the sold-out signs were no match for my willingness to stand at the back (a bargain at £5) but there’ll be plenty of opportunities to see this piece when it transfers to the West End after a short tour.  Tour locations are:

Waterside, Aylesbury 27/9-1/10
Theatre Royal, Plymouth 4/10-8/10
Lowry, Salford 11/10-15/10
New Alexandra, Birmingham 18/10-22/10
Kings Theatre, Edinburgh 25/10-29/10

No masterpiece, perhaps; but a great night out.  Recommended.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 12:18:33 am by HtoHe »

Offline marbleflugel

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2011, 01:04:45 am »
I went off Corden having seen him host some quiz on TV with OTT ego and be embarrasingly infantile towards Patrick Stewart at an awards do, pretty much in the Woss/Brand tradition. Yet his Smithy was bang on, and the director must have got him to work with the ensemble again. As you descibe it they are playing this as 'panto' but hopefully the script has sufficient depth to be returned to-it sounds like it.

Offline Don Basilio

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2011, 08:57:32 am »
I was taken yesterday and I loved it.

The cardboard cut-out sets evoking Brighton were, well utterly evocative.  The pastiche 60s boy band were delightful (pity popular male performers don't wear suits and ties now.)

I've never seen James Corden in film, but he was wonderful at ab libbing: having got two of the front row to help move a suitcase, he asks the audience if anyone had a sandwich?  Someone offered him one:  "What is it?  Humus?  No wonder you haven't eaten it?"

Susie Toze got the warmest reaction when she prophesies that in twenty years time from then (1965) there will be a woman in No 10 and she won't be doing the washing up.  Woman's sensitivity and compassion for the poor will be seen and there will be no more foreign wars.  Loud cheers.

Plot?  Plot, HtoHe?  Plot!  This is slapstick.  And to my amazement I found myself laughing.  A lot.

The third young male lead, the smoldering leather jacket wearing poet, was very funny.
We can exercise compassion, compassion born of empathy.  Both words are synonyms for love, by which I don’t mean a romantic feeling but the readiness to give proper attention to whoever or whatever is before our eyes.  Michael Mayne

Offline HtoHe

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2011, 11:13:55 am »
I went off Corden having seen him host some quiz on TV with OTT ego...Yet his Smithy was bang on

I saw one episode of a sketch show called Horne and Corden which was a tremendous let down after G&S and, as you suggest, it became clear that he's not nearly as brilliant as he thinks he is.  He was far better at the Lyttelton though and, as you might infer from my comments below, was probably taking more close direction than is immediately apparent.

The cardboard cut-out sets evoking Brighton were, well utterly evocative.

Pure genius, Don B.  Probably cost next to nothing but instantly redolent of McGill postcard world

but he was wonderful at ab libbing: having got two of the front row to help move a suitcase, he asks the audience if anyone had a sandwich?  Someone offered him one:  "What is it?  Humus?  No wonder you haven't eaten it?"

Looks like this was scripted, then; it was hummus* when I saw it, too.  Maybe even an audience plant – was the woman picked out to hide behind WG Grace with the pilfered grub called Christine Pattinson, by any chance?  I strongly suspected she was a plant because she was abused to an extent that a genuine audience member might not tolerate; and I didn’t see her after the interval.

The third young male lead, the smoldering leather jacket wearing poet, was very funny.

Yes, Daniel Rigby as Alan (like Susie Toase as Dolly) was gloriously ott.  Almost all cast members were impressive and I feel a bit mean criticising Jemima Rooper as she did have a difficult task balancing the conflicting priorities of seeming a convincing enough man to persuade the audience that she would fool the other characters while remaining so obviously in disguise that the same audience was in on the act.  Poor Trevor Laird as Lloyd Boateng had a similar balancing act in that he was obviously timing his delivery to allow the audience to chime in with his catchword (I mumbled ‘Parkhurst’ a couple of times) at the risk of seeming to falter when the audience response didn’t materialise (which it never did at the performance I saw).

Plot?  Plot, HtoHe?  Plot!  This is slapstick

But isn’t most slapstick, while it might not be described as part of a plot as such, the use of minutely engineered, almost choreographed routines to create the illusion of chaos?

Anyway, that's two glowing recommendations.  Miss this at your peril!

* Richard Bean would appear to have a thing about hummus.  In The Big Fellah, the redneck NY cop Tom Billy, in response to the question ‘what do these Muslims want?’ replies ‘they want everyone to be like them; they want to make everyone eat hummus’ (the ‘big fellah’ himself has the much more telling line ‘they want what all religions want; they want to punish us for being human’)

« Last Edit: August 07, 2011, 11:17:13 am by HtoHe »

Offline Don Basilio

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2011, 11:54:24 am »
It was Christine Paterson and she took a bow at the end: obviously a plant.

But the two guys moving the case weren't.
We can exercise compassion, compassion born of empathy.  Both words are synonyms for love, by which I don’t mean a romantic feeling but the readiness to give proper attention to whoever or whatever is before our eyes.  Michael Mayne

Offline HtoHe

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2011, 01:00:04 pm »
It was Christine Paterson and she took a bow at the end: obviously a plant.

I only stayed for one round of applause as it was already 1700 when the performance ended and I was dashing off to join the Arena queue.  I scoured the cast list for a mention of her and found nothing - and at least one person near me thought she was a genuine audience member chosen at random from the front row.  They thought it possible that the £12 tickets came with an agreement to take part if asked.  I really didn't think they could have worded a waiver of rights in such a way that would allow them to mess up her clothes like that, so, as I said, I strongly suspected a plant.  She was good, though - looked genuinely nervous when asked to hide under that table.

But the two guys moving the case weren't.

I agree.  The hummus sandwich, however, is a bit too much of a coincidence.  I wonder what the plan B is should a genuine audience member offer them a BLT.  I actually had a couple of smoked salmon and spinach sandwiches in my bag, but I was standing at the back of the circle.

Offline Don Basilio

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2011, 01:20:11 pm »
I found the set of the pier with a view back to the sea front in the gloaming rather beautiful.
We can exercise compassion, compassion born of empathy.  Both words are synonyms for love, by which I don’t mean a romantic feeling but the readiness to give proper attention to whoever or whatever is before our eyes.  Michael Mayne

Offline jean

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2011, 10:30:38 pm »
It was sold out in Salford by the time I heard about it, unfortunately.

I wonder how long the original cast will last in the West End run?

Offline kleines c

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2011, 06:34:35 pm »

Offline Don Basilio

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2011, 09:07:26 pm »
The other half is very, very tempted to see it again at the cinema, but I'm happy with my direct experience of the live play.  (Don't let me put anyone off the cinema relay.)
We can exercise compassion, compassion born of empathy.  Both words are synonyms for love, by which I don’t mean a romantic feeling but the readiness to give proper attention to whoever or whatever is before our eyes.  Michael Mayne

Offline jean

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2011, 12:42:39 pm »
I couldn't decide whether to give up and see it at Fact, or wait for the West End transfer, but I decided to give the Lowry one last chance - and yesterday I got the last ticket (which I am sure had not been there when I'd tried before!)

So I'll see it on stage in mid-October.

Offline kleines c

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2011, 05:56:04 pm »
I, too, missed the live cinema transmission, jean, although I was impressed by FACT as a venue for BBC Radio 3's first three free thinking festivals (2006-8).

http://www.fact.co.uk/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/freethinking/archive/

I don't think that theatre (including opera) generally transfers that well to the cinema, so the Lowry sounds like a better bet.

http://www.thelowry.com/

Let us know whether it works as well up North!

Offline jean

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2011, 11:22:16 am »
...The hummus sandwich, however, is a bit too much of a coincidence...

It was still there last Thursday - as was Corden's amazement that this was the first time in all the performances they'd done that anyone had produced any kind of sandwich at all!

I thought the two guys moving the trunk were genuine - clever that, because it led you to expect that the later woman who helped Corden collect the food would be too, and it took quite a while to realise that she wasn't, especially when she acted so well (I loved the way she kept  nervously pulling down her skirt when her top half was under the table).

All very enjoyable, and I'm glad I saw it live.  I loved the skiffle.  That washboard player...what a virtuoso! 

Offline HtoHe

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2012, 12:43:30 pm »
I thought the two guys moving the trunk were genuine

I can confirm this.  I dragged my brother along to the Wednesday matinee* last week and one of the two conscripts was none other than yours truly.  A nice touch after final curtain curtain calls was that James Corden lingered on the apron to lean forward, shake both our hands and thank us for our co-operation.

clever that, because it led you to expect that the later woman who helped Corden collect the food would be too, and it took quite a while to realise that she wasn't

Indeed.  From the stage 'Christine Patterson' plays the role of an ordinary audience member superbly!  She was three seats away from me and I didn't pick her out when looking down at the front row.  The woman sitting next to her had been conversing quite naturally with her before the show started and was slightly concerned when her 'neighbour' got treated as she did.

I see the Haymarket run is already sold out - even though the original cast will be in New York. 

* At the Adelphi, of course.  The NT run finished ages ago but I didn't want to open a new thread.  Some of the text has been cut and the set is necessarily compressed but it still works wonderfully (some critics say better than at the Lyttelton but I wouldn't go that far).  Worth queuing for day seats - (front row £26 (inc £1 levy for something or other).  Good view but the music is a bit loud - and you might have to help with luggage!) but I'm told you probably need to be there by 0800 to be confident.  My brother turned up at 0700 and was third in line.  There is a returns queue as well, but there were a good 20 people in it half an hour before Wednesday's matinee so heaven knows how long the evening queues would be.  The house operates a  smilar anti-touting system to the Donmar's.  They prefer plastic but you can pay with cash if you have ID.  You get given a receipt which you need, along with your ID, to collect your ticket 20 ins before curtain up.
« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 05:39:05 pm by HtoHe »

Offline HtoHe

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Re: One Man, Two Guvnors - Lyttelton Theatre
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2012, 11:43:32 am »
First impressions suggest it will be a big hit in New York, as well:

http://www.thefastertimes.com/newyorktheater/2012/04/18/one-man-two-guvnors-review/

for just one of several rave reviews.

Poor James Corden, though is apparently being stalked by Anna Wintour (just google wintour corden for more details than any sane person could possibly need).  Expect loud, ill-fitting suits on next year's catwalks.