Tudor Players’ One Man, Two Guvnors – 16 February 2023, Library Theatre#

Review by Claire Taranaski.

I came into this review slightly bias as have previous seen the national tour of this Richard Bean comedy and loved it but also knew that if any company in Sheffield could pull it off it was Tudor Players so | was thrilled that this production confirmed that was definitely the case.

I wouldn’t normally start a review by mentioning the music but “The One Man Band”, made up of Steve Mitchell, Steve Hepple and Peter Crown, three songs before the curtain raised made me long to hear a full set of their skiffle music and so I was thrilled when they came on to play a number during each scene change. On the subject of music, I must also skip to the finale and mention the full cast number, which might be the nearest we get to Tudor Players: The Musical but made me hope my dreams for that one day come true.

Before I get onto the cast, I must also praise director Phil Gascoyne, who confirmed he is equal if not more talented as director than as a cast member for the company, in a show that is dependent on its comic timing and directing and getting the best out of its cast Phil created near perfection.

The best performance of the night rightly came from Ross Banister as Francis Henshall / Paddy (aka the one man with two guvnors) who combined amazing stage presence, comic timing and slapstick (at it’s best whilst playing both sides of a fight with himself – needs to be seen to be believed) whilst also being a talented washboard player. Ross deserves to play this role on a national tour or at least be given his own one man show and highly reminded me of Shameless actor Ciaran Griffiths.

Other stand out performances included Jenn Aspinall as Dolly, who was superb at breaking the front wall and saying exactly what every other woman is thinking; Siobhan Hibble returning to the company as Rachel Crabbe who wonderfully pulled off playing both herself and her twin brother without the need to break into obvious stereotypes (and for anyone who gets confused providing the definite explanation of the different between identical and non-identical twins) with for me just a hint of Only Fools’ And Horses gangster Tony Driscoll; Josh Cooper returning to the company as Alan Dangle and pulling off the difficult feet of playing an overacting wannabe actor whilst acting on stage; and Charlie Gascoyne -Thompson as Pauline Clench who can add perfecting bimbo (aka “they couldn’t make bricks thicker”) and Joe Gascoyne-Thompson as Stanley Stubbers who can add perfecting public school toff to their acting repertories.

Quoting the front of the programme “Set in Brighton in the 1960s, Richard Bean’s multi-award winning play is a glorious celebration of British comedy and the perfect antidote for the winter blues” and I think everyone in the audience couldn’t agree more.

And on the subject of the audience, unlike the national tour which obviously had cast members planted in the audience to take part in the play’s interaction, Tudor Players did one better by getting a random audience member on stage during one of the best scenes of the night, the food serving scene, which made it better. I can’t mention this scene without celebrating new to the company’s Sean Fagan as the elderly waiter Alfie, reminiscence of an aging Manuel from Fawlty Towers who stole the show for a second time later during another of my favourite scenes, the police chase as he hobbled through the Benny Hill style chaos around him.

With only two shows to go and tickets selling quick this production is comedic gold that definitely gives the original National Theatre production a run for its money and should not be missed by fans of Tudor Players and anyone who is looking to be thoroughly entertained.

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