One Man Two Guvnors

August 23, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆      Snappy

Rose Theatre (Venue 76): Thurs 18 – Sun 28 Aug 2022
Review by Thom Dibdin

There is a great deal of fun to be had in Captivate Theatre’s production of One Man Two Guvnors, Richard Bean’s knowing adaptation of Carlo Goldoni at the Rose theatre for the final week of the Fringe.

This is a production which is equal in laughs to big touring professional productions that have many, many times the resources of Captivate. But there again, they share the same script and Captivate is rich in one particular resource – its performers.

One Man: Scott Coltman in One Man Two Guvnors. Pic Captivate

It is particularly pleasing to see Captivate regulars such as Scott Coltman, who has come through the ranks of local amateur musical companies, turning their hand to comedy. Coltman impresses here as the central character, hard done-by, ever-hungry, Francis Henshall.

It’s Brighton, 1963 and Henshall has been inadvertently employed as a minder to East-end villain Roscoe Crabbe. Except that it’s not Roscoe at all, but his twin sister Rachel, in disguise as her brother, on the run and looking for the money promised to him by the father of his intended.

Roscoe being dead, murdered by Rachel’s own lover, upper-class twit Stanley Subbers. Who is also on the run and in Brighton to rendezvous with Rachel and in need of a minder himself…

The role of Henshall was, of course, made famous by James Corden in the original NT production of 2011. Indeed, it was something of a vehicle for him. Which seems to be no bother to Coltman who plays the whole thing as if it were his own invention, happily breaking the fourth wall, getting audience members on stage and generally being the fool who everybody loves. And deservedly so. His physical comedy is as good as his wordplay.

One Guvnor Georgia-Lee Roberts with Sandy Queenan in One Man Two Guvnors. Pic Captivate

Coltman is surrounded by a ten-strong cast who make the succession of unlikely chancers and blethering idiots seem completely natural. The only real drawback for most of their performances is that they don’t get enough stage time to really play with their characters.

The obvious exceptions are the two masters. Georgia-Lee Roberts’ terrier-like Rachel Crabbe harries back and forth, trying to get Roscoe’s money from Charlie Clench (a solid Craig Lowe;) appeasing Roscoe’s utterly dim intended, Pauline Clench (perfectly played by Sally Cairns); and fighting off Pauline’s new beaux, plummy actor, Allan, (hilariously rendered by Scott Binnie).

John Knox is a true corker as the other master, Subbers, utterly fixated with his upper-class twittery in a delightfully Monty Pythonesque vein. While throwing in what sound like additions to the original script, that touch on the worst excesses of the Tory party at play and add a contemporary twist to the whole.

The introductory scene at Pauline’s engagement party is rounded off by Les Fulton as Latin-spouting lawyer Harry Dangle – so “good he got the Mau Mau off”; Sandy Queenan who is delightfully supercilious as Clench’s Scottish associate Lloyd; and the provocatively curvaceous Dolly, who Danielle Logan ensures is both sexy and clever.

Sally Cairns in One Man Two Guvnors. Pic” Captivate

The big scene where Henshaw has to deliver food to both masters in different rooms, without either finding out, is enhanced no end by Charlie Munro as the wizened octogenarian Alfie. Munro’s physicality is hilarious and director Sally Lyall’s blocking and timing for the whole succession of set pieces works a real treat.

The whole section goes on a bit too long, perhaps because it is the kind of scene which needs at least an extra five minutes in live performance over rehearsal to cope with all the laughter it generates. Hardly a true fault.

Captivate have often made their basic sets a virtue rather than a hindrance and so it is here, with John Knox and Sandy Queenan’s use of three reversible flats and a bench, just right.

When time is needed between scenes, singer Hazel Beattie (with Fraser Hume at the piano) has a succession of tunes appropriate to the time in her back pocket, delivered front and centre while the cast wheel the set around and behind – and sometimes join in with a doo-whop chorus or two.

Scott Coltman might grab most of the limelight as he is rarely off stage, but the whole cast excel in this delight of a show, servants to both kinds of comedy, verbal and visual.

Running time: Two hours and 15 minutes (including one interval).
Rose Theatre (Main Stage), 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ (Venue 76)
Thursday 18 – Sunday August 2022
Daily: 18:00
Tickets and details: Book here.

Captivate website: http://www.captivatetheatre.com/
Twitter: @Captivate_LTD
Instagram: @captivatetheatre
Facebook: @captivatetheatre

Danielle Logan and Scott Coltman in One Man Two Guvnors. Pic Captivate

ENDS

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