One Man, Two Guvnors

Theatre, West End
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 4 out of 5 stars
(19user reviews)
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One Man, Two Guvnors
© Tristram Kenton
One Man, Two Guvnors

The National's big hit starring James Corden has slimmed down for its West End transfer, but it is still a ton of fun.

Reliably outrageous writer Richard Bean has relocated Carlo Goldoni's Italian farce 'The Servant of Two Masters' to dodgy 1960s Brighton, where he has souped it up with puns, surrealism, drag, cockney dolls, cartoonish conmen, Benny Hill-style chases and lashings of slapstick, sadism and smut. The result is a sharply styled tribute to retro British comedy: the perfect get-away vehicle to escape the blues.

The plot has more funny turns than Tom Edden's show-stealing geriatric waiter-with-a-pacemaker. Director Nicolas Hytner makes Bean's play a joyride – with audience participation and a quiff-happy live skiffle band – lending it the ease of a variety show.

Corden plays Francis: a two-bit goon tying himself in knots to prevent the two bosses he's two-timing from finding out about each other. His real job is to compere the funny business, which he does with amazing dexterity, rolling round the stage like a barrel of laughs. He wins us over by being a plaintive everybloke with an impressively pointless bag of party tricks, like playing a high-speed xylophone solo in a fez or backflipping over an armchair to catch a peanut in his gob (credit to physical comedy director Cal McCrystal).

There are no weak links in Hytner's ensemble. Fred Ridgway is dismally funny as two-bit gangster Charlie 'the Duck' Clench; Jemima Rooper is fantastically gruff as Rachel Crabbe who, for reasons too complicated to explain, spends most of the show in a Ringo wig impersonating her dead brother.

Martyn Ellis is marvellous as aspiring actor Harry Dangle, stalking the postcard-bright streets of Brighton like a fey preying mantis. The lamppost-limbed Oliver Chris is sublime as S&M-loving posho Stanley Stubbers, Bean's subtlest caricature, drawling lines like 'First names are for girls and Norwegians' with patrician aplomb.

There are some brilliantly deranged bon mots: 'Love passes through marriage faster than shit through a small dog,' avers Charlie 'the Duck'. Less corpsing and more subtlety would perfect it but it remains a great night out: a knowing modern tribute to vintage end-of-the-pier fun.


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Average User Rating

4.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:11
  • 4 star:2
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
2 people listening
Paul Grosvenor

Really enjoyed this - had me in stitches! Whirlwind energy, rich characters, and lots of slapstick laughs :)


Very funny play, perfectly delivered. Laugh out loud funny and well worth the entrance fee - highly recommended if you want to see a well written and acted comedy

Anbtoinette McCormick

It was dreadful. But then I was born American, maybe I just don't get humor of the British kind, though I was raised on Monty P. and P.G. Wodehouse. I'm a bit stunned still...I don't know if I get to review this play for real, because I left at the interval. I found it just one pratfall after another...and they were the best bits, with haha funny idiot jokes in between. And I love pantomimes. Give me Groucho any day, and Harpo, and Chico...even the awful fourth one. This is just perplexing. I want my money back. Or, send me to The Book of Mormon? (I walked from that too, but only because I was sick of the poor Ugandan doctor singing, 'I've got maggots in my scrotum...' and figured, I'll watch the rest on YouTube, best be off now or else I'll never get across rush hour in the high winds to the Penn Club, and make my train... I'd like to see the second half I think! Yes, it was great and important and fun, and I hope stops that religion from making any more 'progress' across the globe. I highly recommend at least the first half. There, that's two reviews for you. May I at least have a bottle? I'm afraid I have nothing much else to say! (Except I do wonder if that poor woman hosed down and abused with the fire extinguisher was part of the cast, or not. My sympathies as she was otherwise in much more pain that I was : - /).

Rhys Foulkes

I went into the theatre simply expecting a pleasant evening, but One Man, Two Guvnors easily surpassed this, leaving us laughing out loud for the majority of the performance. With an unexpected element of slapstick (only a little) complementing the superb comic timing of the actors and smart jokes, along with occasional audience interaction, making this a highly enjoyable night out. I'd recommend for anyone looking to see a comedy.


A wonderful evening where we didn't stop laughing! The characters were all portrayed very well, the comedy had perfect timing and the interaction with the audience was natural, making us feel a part of the show. I would recommend to anyone of all ages!


I absolutely loved it, we were laughing out loud all the way through! I would really recommend seeing this before it closes.


A hilarious show that had everyone in the audience constantly laughing. A lot of slapstick humor, but done very well that didn't cheapen the quality of the performance. A wonderful evening that kept you smiling and cheering the entire way through.

Alex K

Fantastic experience and a true joy to watch. It had some super improvisations and I haven't laughed this much during a play for a long time. Only downside was that the ending was a bit weak. Would recommend (and have recommended) it to anyone who wants to have a good laugh.

Paul M

An hilarious afternoon. A slowish start and the end was a bit weak but the rest of it was tremendous fun. Made a grumpy old git roar with laughter frequently. Most enjoyable.


If you like your comedy old fashioned and a little bit silly, this will have you laughing 'til your sides hurt. Excellent musical asides from the live band made this a joy to watch. Would pay to see this again!


Excellent show. Tons of great lines and improvisation with some fantastic slapstick thrown in for good measure:-) I laughed from start to finish

Steve Arnell

Excellent entertainment, one of the funniest plays I have ever seen. Go ahead and book , you will have an night out to remember.


I wish I could understand why this play got such good reviews. There wasn't a minute of intelligent humour. Even worse, it was of the stupidest mediocre kind. Some characters are more stupid then others (although majority are stupid so I guess it's somehow, magically, supposed to be funny) someone gets beaten up, the storyline's meh, stereotypes everywhere. I left after the interval, the second time I've done that in my life.


The funniest play I've ever seen, a must-see. Corden is great but the other actors are EXCELLENT too. Really recommend.