One Man, Two Guvnors – A huge dose of laughter at the Octagon Bolton
Reviewed by Hilary Dawes
Based on the Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 comedy by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni, this brilliantly funny play by Richard Bean is set in 1963 Brighton, and follows the story of the perpetually broke and hungry Francis Henshall, who becomes minder to Roscoe Crabbe, a small time East End gangster, here to claim money owed to him by his fiancée’s father, Charlie Clench. However, it emerges that Roscoe is actually his sister Rachel, posing as her own dead brother who has been murdered by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers. Mayhem and confusion follow as Francis takes a second job with Stanley, on the run and waiting to be reunited with Rachel. To prevent discovery and earn money from both “guvnors”, Francis must keep Rachel and Stanley apart.
And so follows a multitude of memorable moments with delicious dialogue, farce and energetic slapstick comedy, becoming more and more frenzied, with a skillful and hilarious physical performance from Javier Marzan as the elderly waiter, Alfie.
As Francis, Jordan Pearson gives a wonderfully natural performance, with a winning personality and impeccable comic timing. Every fellow cast member deserves the highest praise, from Siobhan Athwal’s louche, swaggering Roscoe Crabbe to Lauren Sturgess’s delightfully naïve Pauline, now in love with Alan Dangle, a hilariously flamboyant Qasim Mahmood. Karl Seth, as suave lawyer Harry Dangle, contrasts brilliantly with the character of Charlie Clench, played with Cockney charm by Rodney Matthews. Polly Lister has great fun as down to earth feminist Dolly, and Alexander Bean, as the laconic Lloyd Boateng, provides the voice of reason throughout the mayhem! Laurie Jamieson is wonderfully pompous and over the top as upper-class twit Stanley Stubbers, getting away with the most outrageous lines!
Featuring throughout the performance and adding to the feel-good factor is the fantastic sixties-inspired live music, with multi-talented cast members forming the skiffle group, led by brilliant musician Matthew Ganley (Gareth).
For a thoroughly entertaining and exhilarating evening, this current offering from the Octagon Bolton is an absolute must-see. Catch it if you can until 25th June.