Thursday, October 20, 2011

One Man Two Guvnors: Manchester England England

Since all the reviews were overwhelmingly positive about One Man Two Guvnors, I took this as a positive sign and booked a ticket in....Manchester England England across the Atlantic sea...and then a hotel and then a train ticket.  So it was a bit of a leap to go see a show on the road in the UK.

The National Theatre tours around some of its shows to the regional theaters in the UK.  One Man Two Guvnors had completed its sold out run at the National Theatre and was embarking on this tour before returning to the West End...and possibly Broadway.

My friend and I therefore schlepped out to Salford outside of Manchester to a gorgeous complex called The Lowry (see Media City in Salford below).

We had fantastic seats and the show opens with a skiffle band* playing.  They play at various intervals during the show as well.

The star of the show is James Corden (another History Boy) who I know from the fantastic TV series he co-writes and stars in called Gavin and Stacey.  I highly recommend you check it out on iTunes.  It is fantastic.

Anyhoo...James Corden plays Francis, an overweight and always hungry bloke, who takes on two jobs as an assistant--one as "muscle" for a gangster and another as a runner for a posh-upper crust twit.  Francis is not very bright so managing his tasks for these "two guvnors" is challenging.  The show is adapted from an Italian playwright who was in turn inspired by commedia dell arte.  There are characters who directly address the audience, lots of physical comedy and not much plot.  But the physical comedy is amazing.

There were moments that reminded me of watching the Carol Burnett show when I was little.  Especially where the actors were trying to crack each other up and the other actors were trying to stay in character.

Corden, Oliver Chris, as the posh guvnor, Tom Edden as an ancient waiter and Daniel Rigby as a melodramatic actor stood out.  Jemima Rooper sadly was less successful.  She did her part just fine but she didn't have a comedienne's rhythm or delivery.

I did not think I would like a show that was little plot and mostly physical comedy but I think it was Corden who sells this.  He's lovable and charming.  He has a few bits of audience interaction and makes that delightful.

I know they have discussed bringing the show over to Broadway but my friend and I found it to be very English.  There were a lot of references to people and places we didn't know.  The accents employed were also pretty thick with a lot of dialect thrown in the mix.  We happened to be at a captioned performance and frankly we were grateful for the captions in the end because there were points where we needed them!  I think it could transfer but I think it might need to be adapted a little for US audiences.

*Weirdly enough they mentioned John Lennon playing in a skiffle band in Backbeat so finally when I was spending time with my friend's Mom and her boyfriend in Newcastle I asked them what a skiffle band was.  It is apparently something akin to a jug band or a bluegrass band with washboards etc...

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