Review of One Man, Two Guvnors
By Richard Bean
Stage Direction by Carl Jordan
Music Direction by Jake Turner
6th Street Playhouse
For tickets / schedule :
6th Street Playhouse, Santa Rosa
RUN: January 15 – February 7, 2016
RATING: 4.5 of 5 stars
(January 16, 2016)
Adapted from an 18th century Venetian comedy, Servant of Two Masters, the story and humor has been updated for a modern audience by Richard Bean, a comedian himself. Its West End opening was in 2011, moving to Broadway one year later to critical acclaim. It is not so much a play as an entire experience, richly drawn upon by 6th Street Playhouse. Performances feature a live band, The Craze, ostensibly from Brighton, who entertain well into the evening. Using audience members, the story becomes an interactive experience, leaving the fourth wall non existent.
The plot and exaggerated stock characters will be familiar to Shakespeare enthusiasts—it is reminiscent of A Comedy of Errors and other classic early English works, as well as many comedic operas. The actors strike a balance between fully embracing the absurdity of their roles and reigning in the nonsensical elements to be palatable for consumption thanks to direction from Carl Jordan. Scene transitions take on a playful feel through a series of musical performances from the cast in full character, sparkling with fun. With a minimalist set, April George’s lighting design took center stage, shifting colors with the story’s mood.
Leading the charge is Craig A. Miller (Francis Henshall) bumbling his way Falstaff style through impossible situations. His brilliance as a buffoon supersedes occasional drops in the accent; his work attempting to move a heavy trunk into the pub alone were hilarious, and his reactions masterful. He is surrounded by a talented cast. Benjamin Stowe (Stanley Stubbers) played it straight with deliberate flair, balancing the pandemonium and augmenting the comedy. While an ensemble role, Michael Temple’s performance is of note, with a constant array of cameos. While his challenges with the accent were noticeable, the poise and powerful acting of Norman A Hall (Charlie “The Duck” Clench) combined for an intriguing character.
6th Street Playhouse’s topsy-turvy production of One Man, Two Guvnors is boisterous, light entertainment with a vintage twist. For a lively evening with good company, visit Brighton via Santa Rosa for an unforgettable experience. Please note that it is not suitable for children due to mature content.