Earlier this year National Theatre embarked on its third tour of One Man, Two Guvnors and it’s clear to see just how this production has managed to achieve such critical acclaim. Set in 1960s Brighton, Richard Bean updates and reinvents Commedia’ dell’Arte classic The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, and this week the show landed in the Grand Theatre leaving its 1500-strong crowd gasping for breath after two and a half hours of visual humour and physical comedy.
The atmosphere was warm and bright as The Craze warmed the audience up with their nostalgic image and sounds of archetypical bands from the sixties. Bold back drops aligned with eye catching patterns delightfully set up the stage for the performance. Constantly running through and breaking the fourth wall, Gavin Spokes brought protagonist Francis Henshall to life with complete commitment to his energetic and often physically demanding role. Spokes impressively dealt with hecklers offering him sandwiches part way through the first act which excitingly set up the climax of the first half which left the audience shocked and confused as to whether or not what they had just seen was real life or staged. Michael Dylan’s physicality of eighty-six year old waiter Alfie was also inspiring to watch as he relentlessly played the victim of countless slapstick routines.
One man, Two Guvnors took its audience on a hysterical ride with slapstick comedy reminiscent of bold sitcoms such as Fawlty Towers and Mrs Brown’s Boys. Whilst it was confusing to decide whether audience interaction was genuine or planted, the ensemble masterfully tricked the audience into believing that events were indeed sincere. This production successfully enticed its audience and even six months into the tour, the performance felt fresh due to the talented ensemble’s commitment to their roles.