One Man, Two Guvnors
Haymarket Theatre Royal
Until Sat Mar 1 2014
Time Out rating:
Not yet rated
Time Out says
Wed Mar 14 2012
Appropriately enough, things have gone a bit end of the pier at the National Theatre’s Brighton-set West End hit.
Almost two years after Richard Bean’s lovingly Anglicised reworking of Goldoni’s classic farce ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ premiered at the Lyttelton, James Corden and the superb original cast are a distant memory. So too is Owain Arthur – Corden’s successor in the role of hapless goon Francis Henshall – and the show’s great second ensemble, who are currently off enjoying a tour of the Pacific Rim.
The show’s third official lead, then, is comedian Rufus Hound. An impish figure, he know how to work a crowd and has the bulky Francis’s improbably lithe physicality down pat. But he’s not really an actor: Hound is well spoken, and so, improbably, is his dimwit busker turned thug-for-hire Francis. And while Hound gets big laughs in the audience interaction sections, he almost has too much fun, a stand up slipping into his comfortable routine, not an actor surprisingly breaking the fourth wall.
The rest of the cast vary in quality: most are verbally dextrous enough to handle the precision-tooled silliness of Bean’s arch dialogue, but very few of them have the exaggerated physicality required to really bring the ’60s-set play’s roster of gangsters, oddballs and semi-grotesques to life.
It is still funny, and the loving details of Nicholas Hytner’s original production – notably the musical interludes by skiffle band ‘The Craze’ – remain charming as ever. But without a first rate ensemble it’s not the show it was even six months ago. Ticket sales will determine its fate, but it would probably be the right thing, artistically, to let it close with dignity at the end of its current booking period. Andrzej Lukowski
Haymarket Theatre Royal 18 Suffolk Street
- Event phone:
0845 481 1870
- Event website:
- Date Time Price information
Mon Feb 1119:30£15-£85. Runs 2hrs 30mins