One Man, Two Guvnors – 30 October 2019, Sheffield University Drama Studio
Review by Callam Fellows.
“One man working for two different people and having to keep it secret by hiding them from each other seems like a simple enough premise for a classic farce. However, add in an actor in search for a dramatic revenge as his fiancée is forced to marry a woman disguised as her dead “identical” twin brother, amongst many other mind boggling plot line and characters, it is no wonder that our main characters become confused and fail to understand what is happening. Saying that though, the whole cast make the otherwise overwhelming story clear and easy to follow and understand.
Though set in the 1960’s, the show is brought up to date with oblivious characters, somewhat tongue in cheek, speculating the capabilities of a future female prime minister and the likelihood of Thomas Cook making all the news headlines in 2019. These satirical adlibs were an excellent addition to the show and keeping to its comedy style.
I cannot remember the last time I saw an amateur production with lighting that provided more to the show beyond allowing the audience to see the stage. Special mention must go to Simon Alford and Michael Palser on lighting, who use the stage lights to humourously cast a heavenly glow on to the stage at the mention of a pub that serves food. Another special mention must go to the front of house who were very helpful and friendly.
The whole cast should be pleased with their performance and being able to stage such a complex comedy. Note worthy performers include James Gilson as Francis, the “One Man” struggling to keep up with the confusing situation he’s created for himself. A main role in the story, he spouts tongue twisters, wrestles himself, and even chews up paper. This is a demanding role so Gilson should be proud of juggling the show’s antics with ease. Katy Leigh plays Dolly who, apart from a brief appearance in the opening scene, doesn’t really arrive until Act 2. Though not given much to work with, Leigh deserves credit for a strong performance with great expressions and tones and builds a powerful rapport with the audience through asides expressing her outlooks on men and women. Emma Dorricott as Pauline and Lucy Bytheway as Rachel/Roscoe were both talented character performers who worked well off each other and other characters they shared scenes with. Michael Saliba as Stanley (AKA Dustin Pubsign) was a firework of energy, bursting into each scene with eccentric enthusiasm.
Ben Newman played Alfie, an elderly waiter. In this part Newman embodies Steptoe and Worzel Gummidge mixed into one grimy and unpleasant pensioner. Foul mouthed and constantly sneering each time he enters, as if disappointed to see the audience are still there, he has perfected playing the dirty old man you avoid talking to at the bus stop. He provided some of the best pieces of comedy and physically humour of the night and quite literally threw himself into the role.
The stand out star of the show though was Will Turner who was a tour de force as aspiring actor Alan. So much energy and over the top dramatisation was put into each syllable he uttered. He possesses an ability that if he were to read out the phone book he would speak in a tone that suggest that he is performing one of Shakespeare’s most
famous dramatic monologues. Even simple lines consisting of one word like “Alan” or “Woolworths” were delivered with so much importance and dramatic flare, as if Yorick’s skull would suddenly materialise in his grasp.
I do have one minor nitpick. Whilst I understand the difficulty surrounding the use of a working fire extinguisher as a prop, I do not believe a can of squirty whip cream is a serviceable replacement, especially one that seemingly hasn’t been pre-shaken, hindering it’s squirtiness. A fire bucket may have been a better replacement. Or even a water gun, though it does not match the setting, might have been adequate for a quick slapstick moment.
Also whilst One Man Two Governors is a very funny show, it does not lend itself to quick and easy scene changes. In the original production a 60’s style band was recruited to play songs in front of the curtains whilst the scenery was changed behind, with the band occasionally accompanied by cast members demonstrating their own musical abilities. In this production, rather than a band, the cast would appear to lip sync, play the trombone, balloon model; doing just about anything to stall for time and attempt to keep the audience entertained whilst the backstage team re-set the stage as quick as possible. These variety act segments were of varying success, ranging from awkward to hysterical. My favourite though was simply Ben Newman as Alfie eating a banana that’s “Not ripe at all” whilst embarrassing audience members on the front row. Another noteworthy moment was Will Turner’s parody of Jolene which he introduced by quipping “Do we have any Dolly Parton fans? …I’m sorry.”
Overall, an incredibly entertaining show starring a cast overflowing with comedic talent. It successfully makes the audience feel just as involved with the production, to the point it becomes tricky to tell actors from audience members apart. Congratulations to all involved for staging for a truly hilarious production.”
One Man, Two Guvnors will be performed at Sheffield University Drama Studio at 7.30pm until Saturday 2 November. To book visit www.sutco.org/tickets
The award winning SUTCo perform four shows a semester. For further information visit www.sutco.org.