Friday, 3 February 2012

One Man, Two Guvnors at the Adelphi Theatre, London

Two days ago (31 January) I went to see "One Man, Two Guvnors" at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. It was a comical farce, based on Carlo Goldoni's Commedia del Arte piece, Servant of Two Masters, with 18th century Venice replaced by Brighton in 1963.

The main character, Francis Henshall, played by James Corden, was probably the main reason why the theatre was full, and he did a pretty sound job of potraying the lead.

The plot was a Shakespearian-like mix of deceit and disguise, in which Henshall, who has a predeliction for food, tries to serve his two masters whilst, at the same time, searching for food. This search is satisfied in the first half of the play, leaving him to feed his heart as the play reaches its climax.

It was an entertaining romp, and included audience participation, some of which appeared spontaneous, and some planned. Early in the play, Henshall asks a couple of men in the front row to help him lift a trunk, and this seemed to be genuine. Later, a woman is invited from the audience to help Henshall out in one scene, and ends up getting sprayed in foam from a fire extinguisher just before the interval. At that point, I thought that this was a bit fishy, and my suspicions were fuelled when the lady did not resume her seat in the front row in the second half, and confirmed when she turned up on stage to take a bow at the end.

One interruption appeared to throw Corden, when Henshall asks a rhetorical question of the audience, to the effect of "Does anyone have a sandwich?" To which he received the response, "Yes I do." Clearly, this was not in the script and it seemed to put Corden right off his stroke.

Otherwise, Corden was very good, as were all the members of the ensemble cast. A play that started off with some rather lame and hackneyed jokes ended up being a riotous way to spend an evening.

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