The National Theatre’s award winning comedy play One Man, Two Guvnors opened last night at Leeds Grand Theatre, starring the completely charming Rufus Hound in the lead role as Francis Henshall. Billed as ‘the funniest show on the planet’ – it had a lot of hype to live up to, and thankfully it did.
Director Richard Bean’s English version of Goldoni’s classic Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters is set in 1960s Brighton. Here, the permanently peckish Francis sees a chance to double his wage by taking on two bosses, but at the same time he doubles his confusion and halves his chance of getting a good meal down him.
It’s an energetic, slapstick laughathon, with cockney gangsters (the Crabbes), lovesick fools (almost everyone but especially dramatic Alan), posh boys (the hilarious Stanley), ballsy women (hello Dolly), skiffle music (performed by a live band), double identities (troublemaking Paddy) and plenty of physical comedy that at times defied the laws of gravity.
A highlight was definitely the dinner scene, which I believe has won an award of it’s own in America – the choreography of props, people and one-liners with comic timing was a joy to watch. Octogenarian Alfie made me burst with his Mrs Overalls shuffles mixed with a suppleness seen only before in The Matrix films. Add to this Stanley’s boarding school language and Francis’ non stop quest for food and it was the perfect recipe for rib tickling. There were loads of surprises and I was actually crying with laughter when the interval lights came on.
I loved it when the actors sometimes got the giggles too – there is so much ridiculous behaviour happening on stage it must be hard not to. I know from his TV performances that Rufus is highly skilled in improvisation, so the audience might get a different joke to the original one at times, but no laughs will be missed and every night will be a totally unique performance. I would watch it again in an instant.
One Man, Two Guvnors is a real crowd-pleasing, uplifting night out with a fantastic cast. I got totally swept up in the action, although thankfully, not as much as some people in the theatre! Without giving the plot away – not that I could really describe it anyway – here’s my playlist inspired by the show.
- Stray Cats – Rumble In Brighton
(The play is set in Brighton in 1963)
- James Brown – The Boss (Are two wages really worth two bosses?)
- Bruce Springsteen – Hungry Heart (a song mentioning hunger, by an artist known as The Boss? I’m on fire here!)
- Merry Clayton – You’ve Been Acting Strange (For dramatic Alan)
- Adam & The Ants – Physical (Throwing yourself around on stage for hours a day gets my respect)
- They Might Be Giants – Dinner Bell (For the ingenious dinner scene)
- Jonathan Richman – I’m So Confused (We all are, but possibly no one more than Pauline)
- The Cardigans – Lovefool (Everyone is in love and it’s turning them crazy)
- Manic Street Preachers – Australia (Yuk! *vomits in mouth*)
- The Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog (Woof woof Rufus Hound – you are perfect for this play! I’m so glad I got to see your performance *gives standing ovation*)
Playlist by @Wandapops – Leeds Playlist is my blog, thanks for reading