One Man, Two Guvnors - 15Feb2023
Review by Sue Cox|
Sheffield Library Theatre
This was a most excellent and hilarious production of “One Man, Two Guvnors”, based on the “The Servant of Two Masters” written in 1743 by Carlo Goldoni. Although it was written in the 18th century the play remains very popular and can be set in just about any era. This production is set in the sixties and before the curtain went up, we were entertained with a skiffle band providing the perfect mood for what followed.
This was well-directed production, complete with a strong cast of thirteen who understood their characters. The speed of action, delivery and clarity of the lines was incredible, especially with all the tongue-twisters. With a very elaborate and complicated plot to follow, the cast were excellent in ensuring that the audience knew exactly what was happening.
Ross Bannister was superb in the very demanding and exhausting role of Francis Henshall, not only delivering copious amounts of dialogue, but also throwing himself about the stage with very quick exits and entrances. The rapport he had with the audience was first-class. Henshall takes on two jobs with different employers (Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers) and he tries his best to keep these two men from meeting. It was amazing the way Ross kept up the dialogue throughout the production and very rarely left the stage - not forgetting his role as “Paddy”. A brilliant performance from Ross.
There were first-class performances and characterisations from all members of the cast. Siobhan Hibble was excellent in her double role as Rosco Crabbe, only later revealing that she is in fact his twin sister, Rachel, and in love with Stanley Stubbers. Stanley was played to precision by Joe Gascoyne-Thompson with the mannerisms and diction of a very demanding public-school gentleman. John Fereday was at ease as Charlie “The Duck” Clench. John certainly had this dodgy geezer character well and truly under his belt and I don’t think anyone would like to do a deal with him. His not-so-bright daughter, Pauline Clench, was perfectly played by Charlie Gascoyne-Thompson. Pauline is engaged to Alan Dangle who desperately wants to be an actor. Josh Cooper was excellent as the over-the-top actor, quoting Shakespeare as and when he felt like it. Rod Duncan was perfect as Alan’s father, Harry Dangle, a very much upper-class and successful solicitor. Charlie Clench could not function without the help of his secretary, Dolly, who does not suffer fools gladly and says what she thinks. Jenn Aspinall was terrific, and I loved her facial expressions. Played with ease by Robin Byrne was Lloyd, also a dodgy geezer and a former prison cell-mate of Charlie Clench. As the story moves on, we meet Gareth the waiter who gets involved with Henshall’s schemes and Justin Harrison’s portrayal was spot-on. Likewise, Sean Fagan as the ageing waiter, Alife. Sean’s interpretation was first-class and here we had another actor having to throw himself around the stage and be knocked over many times - all carefully choregraphed. Ben Duncan and Rob Jex as waiters and policemen rounded-off a fine cast.
The play progress with more and more confusion and misunderstandings, but as they say: “what a tangled web we weave when we first do deceive”. However, there is happy ending for everyone and all is well.
Last but by no means least were the scene changes carried out and perfectly choreographed by the stage crew and cast. It was obvious that hours of rehearsal had gone into both the acting and the scene changes. It was amazing and at the same time the skiffle band entertained the audience. In this first-class production there were many funny and hilarious scenes, all of which made possible by good direction, an excellent cast and, of course, a great set and props.
Thank you for the making us laugh so much and for the invite and hospitality. Looking forward to your next production.