Sound Ideas Theatre Company present One Man Two Guvnors at The Maddermarket Theatre for a run of four nights.
The Maddermarket Theatre is a gorgeous intimate space in the middle of Norwich town centre (with nearby car parks) and is a complete gem of a theatre.
‘One Man Two Guvnors’ is an adaptation of a 1743 comedy play by an Italian playwright. The English adaptation is set in 1963 Brighton and is still a full-on comedy farce.
The plot seems as though it could be hard to follow: recently fired Francis Henshall finds himself very hungry and employed by two different people – Roscoe, a gangster, and Stanley, a posh private school type. Francis tries to keep the two away from each other to avoid them finding out he has two guvnors. To add to the levels of complexity, Roscoe is really his sister Rachel (Lauren Bryant) in disguise as Roscoe was murdered by her boyfriend Stanley, Roscoe is also supposed to be engaged to dippy Pauline (Emily Sidnell) in an arrangement made by mobster Charlie the Duck (James Trayton), however Pauline is in love with the solicitor’s son Alan, the wanna-be actor.
Once the set-up is there, it’s easy to follow and the intertwined storylines are just ripe for plenty of twists, complications and confusions of seismic proportions especially as Francis is not the brightest and is distracted by his hunger. There are plenty of near misses as Francis eats a letter, mixes up suitcases and invents an Irish ironing expert for a scapegoat and to help gain the heart of Dolly (Kate Pantry).
There is a large scene based on serving dinner to the two guvnors who are eating in adjoining rooms and Francis enlists the help of the staff to keep the two away from each other, but also to give him the opportunity to finally eat something. Look out for the elderly waiter who could be in Acorn Antiques, and joins in with the physical humour.
It’s a total laugh a minute farce with some high-energy slapstick physical comedy, brilliant one liners and constant puns. There is audience participation in this play so be prepared to join in – with whatever they throw at you!
The play is accompanied by a skiffle band ‘The Threepenny Bits’ – a handful of tracks at the top of the show and after the interval which is a lovely way to inform the audience to take their seats. The band were multi-talented and came on stage for scene changes, this added to the overall delightful entertainment. Several band members also played bit parts which stopped the actors having to break character to play another.
The whole cast are brilliant. Talented, professional and entertaining. Their timing, natural humour, presence and breaking the fourth wall were constantly engaging. Joseph Betts plays Francis Henshall superbly, Nic Gordon as Stanley is hilarious and last minute replacement Dan Smith stepped in as Alan and played him perfectly.
Sound Ideas Theatre Company at The Maddermarket Theatre is a perfect combination for their post-covid production to launch back to normality.
One Man Two Guvnors is running 8th-11th September – don’t miss out.
This review first appeared on GrapevineLIVE