‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ is a notoriously difficult play to put on, especially for an am-dram group. Based on the Commedia dell’arte classic ‘The Servant of Two Masters’, the play jumps from scene to scene at break-neck speed, the stereotypical characters get into all sorts of scrapes and even the audience become embroiled in the mayhem. It’s an incredibly funny play – but only if the play is done right.
For this reason, it was with some trepidation that I attended Lovelace Theatre Group’s latest production – but I needn’t have worried. The entire show was filled from start to finish with both physical humour and extremely clever wordplay, leaving the audience laughing out loud throughout (I never thought I’d laugh so much at a young man’s hairy chest!).
The play was held together by the group’s leading man, Jacob Hunt-Wheatly, in the role of Francis Henshall, who ends up serving under two ‘guvnors’. Jacob kept the plot moving along quickly, whilst also providing many of the funniest moments of the play. His childlike amazement at the fact that some pubs serve food as well as beer, and his witty asides to the audience, made him a very likeable character and easy to root for.
Henshall serves under Stanley Stubbers (Josh Beet providing a performance that can only be summed up with the words “Country life!”) and Rachel Crabbe (Sophie Avci, who spends most of the play in hiding as Rachel’s non-identical twin brother Roscoe). Also in on the action are Charlie the Duck (Neil Richardson) and his daughter Clarice (Emily Giles), who is engaged to be married to Roscoe, who is actually Rachel in disguise, who is… well, you can see how it can get confusing!
Some alterations were made to the original play, with the characters of Harry Dangle and Lloyd Boateng gender swapped to Harriet and Laura, and played by Hatty Hunt-Blow and Amber Richardson respectively. Both actresses gave stellar performances, however it was a shame the characters weren’t given more to do (I’m looking forward to seeing Amber in the lead role in Lovelace’s “Alice in Wonderland” in January).
Special mention must also go to Georgie Stamp as Dolly, the flirtatious love interest of Henshall, and Frankie Moules-Wright as wannabe actor Alan (don’t ask him where he got his knife – just don’t!). Both were welcome additions to the cast, and I was glad when their roles were expanded upon in the second act. The show also starred recent junior graduates Tiffany Shelton and Kyle Edmunds as Barbara and Alfie respectively – both are great young actors and I’m excited to see what they can do in the future.
Despite a few missteps here and there (an obvious audience plant meant that some of the scenes towards the end of act one fell a bit flat), the production, directed by Jess Wall and Daniel Knight, provided a great evening of entertainment, with a fantastic set and soundtrack helping to transport us back to the 60s. An excellent production as always – well done Lovelace!
Lovelace Theatre’s annual pantomime will take place on 16th to 19th January 2020 at the John Godber Centre, Hucknall.
Tom Morley, October 2019