Theatre Review: One Man, Two Guvnors

Theatre Breaks

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Last Thursday evening Superbreak’s Head of Theatre, David Thomas joined a celebrity audience to see The National Theatre’s One Man, Two Guvnors. Read on to find out the gossip…

One Man, Two Guvnors
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean

Along with Amanda Holden, Yasmin Le Bon, Myleene Klass and Nigel Harman (soon to be playing Simon Cowell in “I Can’t Sing, The X-Factor Musical”), I had the pleasure of watching One Man, Two Guvnors as it became the longest running production in the 200 year history of the Theatre Royal Haymarket. And what a great way to celebrate the 50th Birthday of The National Theatre, and in a week that its biggest ever hit, War Horse opened in Birmingham and Berlin with Rufus Norris confirmed as the successor to Nick Hytner!

Without giving anything away, One Man, Two Guvnors includes some audience participation, and with that many celebrities in the audience it was a statistical certainty that the central character, Francis Henshall (played by the utterly BRLLIANT Owen Arthur) would pick one well-known face from the front stalls. Arise Gok Wan, summoned to the stage for a hilarious impromptu performance which included a fair bit of wicked teasing from the impish Owen (all taken in good heart by the unphased Fashion Guru) and which had my neighbour, Jill Halfpenny (EastEnders, Legally Blonde, Abigail’s Party and winner of Strictly Come Dancing) breaking into peals of laughter.

ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS by Bean
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS by Richard Bean;
Credit: Johan Persson

What can I say about Owen Arthur? This might sound unkind to James Corden and Rufus Hound, but no offence guys, to me Owen IS Frances Henshall. Okay, so he has travelled 25,500 miles around the world with the role and performed to over five hundred occasions, but this was the role that he was BORN to play. I strongly urge everyone to get down to the Haymarket to see this human dynamo carry all before him in Richard Bean’s multi-award winning comedy.

One Man, Two Guvnors is set in Brighton in 1963, the year of The Beetles first LP “Please Please Me.” It was produced by “The Fifth Beetle,” George Martin, who the previous year had recorded two hit singles “Hole In The Ground” and “Right Said Fred” with Bernard Cribbins the voice of The Wombles and Wilfred Mott in Doctor Who. At eighty-four years old, Bernard Cribbins represented the higher end of the audience spectrum at One Man, Two Guvnors last Thursday (not that you would know by the way he sprinted up the stairs), and at the other end was my daughter, Chloe-Leigh, who laughed non-stop throughout the performance.

Later, at the post show party at trendy Indian eaterie “Mint Leaf,” we both declared One Man, Two Guvnors an ‘awesome’ night out. It was the first thing we had agreed on all year (and it was only October!).

Have you ever seen this famous slapstick comedy? Let us know your thoughts on One Man, Two Guvnors using the comments box below.

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