Richard Bean’s hilarious One Man, Two Guvnors is the perfect antidote to the January blues, and Farnworth Little Theatre and director Natalie Crompton have gathered a superb cast to administer said antidote.
We are in Brighton in the year 1963 and Francis Henshall (Phil Harrison) has just been fired from his skiffle band. In search of food (and romance), he soon finds himself juggling not one but two new jobs.
What Francis doesn’t know is that his first guvnor, small time crook Roscoe Crabbe, is Roscoe’s twin sister Rachel (Ellie Murphy), in disguise as her dead brother, who was killed by her boyfriend, Stanley Stubbers (James Haslam). To complicate matters further, Francis’ second boss is none other than Stubbers, on the run and desperate to be reunited with Rachel. All Francis needs to do is keep his two guvnors apart, simple?
I first must compliment the wonderfully designed set. As the name of the venue suggests, there isn’t a huge amount of space for big, complicated sets and with just 2 doors, a rotatable wall and clever scene transitions there was never any doubt as to which location you were in.
This show starts at a pace that doesn’t slow until the final curtain falls. Harrison as Francis Henshall gives a potentially award-winning performance with an energy the other cast had to try and match. He plays with ease chaotic scene after chaotic scene whilst mastering the very heavily worded and at times tongue twisting script.
Rachel Crabbe, the dizygotic twin of Roscoe is played with confidence and swagger by Ellie Murphy and James Haslam as Stubbers is suitably simple-minded as the upper-class twit. Two very strong performances.
A standout performance for me was Jim Smith as the 87-year-old waiter Alfie. Smith did not come out of character for one second and displayed an energy most octogenarians would be proud of!
Other notable performances come from Nick Eccles as the over-the-top amateur actor Alan, Keith Mcevoy as mobster Charlie the Duck and Esme Mather playing Dolly who Francis sets his romantic sights on from the moment he met her.
One Man, Two Guvnors guarantees to send you home with a huge smile on your face, if you can secure one of the few remaining tickets next week, you won’t be disappointed. Playing until the 22nd January. https://www.farnworthlittletheatre.co.uk/
Reviewer: Paul Downham
Reviewed: 15th January 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★