One Man, Two Guvnors
Based on the 16th Century Italian comedy, One Man Two Guvnors is a classic tale of mistaken identity. Originating at the National Theatre with English Comedian James Corden in the lead role as Francis Henshall, the show went onto to achieve huge success, transferring to the West End and Broadway. Despite missing out on an Olivier Award in 2012 One Man, Two Guvnors bagged itself a prestigious Tony Award for James Corden’s performance as the loveable rogue, Francis.
Set in Brighton in the 60’s, the story focuses on a lowly fool who agrees to play servant to two masters (a notorious gangster and a criminal), who turn out to be star-crossed lovers in disguise. The ingredients of the show are simple yet effective as many disguises are donned, leading to
The main driving forces behind Francis’ actions are his need for food and sex. In the first half the fool is driven by his human desire for a good solid meal and the many (hilarious) lengths he would go to to get it and at whatever cost to his masters. The second act see’s Francis act on his crude animalistic instincts towards the busty secretary, Dolly, which also lands him in trouble. The show comes to a climatic yet comic end as identities are revealed on all fronts.
The show is punctuated with short musical interludes from a live skiffle band (accordion, harmonica, banjo, the lot!) which adds to the authenticity of the area and also allows room for pause after laugh riot scenes!
One Man, Two Guvnors is playful and uses a lot of audience interaction and participation. The show is perfect for those who love physical humour and some good old-fashioned silliness.
Whilst the production is not suitable for young children due to it’s mild adult content and sexual references, older children of 14 years old and above may enjoy the show. One Man, Two Guvnors is popular with schools teaching KS3 and above as the play is rooted in the traditional Italian comedy of Commedia dell’Arte, which is a popular area of study for many Literature and Drama courses.