In case you hadn’t heard The National Theatre are doing something wonderful in these uncertain times. As we are all unable to visit the theatre at the moment, they have explored their archives and organised the streaming of some of their most popular shows in the last few years. The first showing was last night, at 7pm the curtains were drawn and One Man, Two Guvnors began!
I really had no idea what to expect from the play as I knew little about it before yesterday, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. The slapstick comedy and ridiculous plot had me howling with laughter – exactly what I need after being in isolation for over three weeks! The play tells the story of Francis Henshall (James Corden) who unwittingly becomes the minder for two separate bosses, neither of whom are exactly who they say they are. Solely motivated by food and later women, Francis performs a set of hilarious tasks that he cannot keep up with, assisted by the audience and several brilliant characters.
The scene changes are accompanied by witty music from a 60s band that are intermittently joined by members of the cast playing a variety of musical instruments. I thought this was a really clever addition as it added to the audience interaction, breaking the third wall, whilst not distracting from the play’s plot.
Audience participation and interaction are a massive part of this play and one of its greatest strengths. The characters frequently turn to the audience to share their thoughts, adding an extra layer of comedy. Corden directly interacts with the audience throughout the show and his quick wittedness makes for hysterical dialogue. You can see he is occasionally caught off guard, but his honest reactions simply increase the comedic value.
Each character in this production is fully defined and hilarious in their own way, from the innocently dim witted Pauline to the outrageous posh Stanley. Together they make a wonderfully rich tableau sure to keep you laughing from start to finish.
Favourite Character: Alfie played by Tom Edden
Favourite Scene: Lunch Service – Francis attempts to serve both of his guvnors at once without letting either of them know about the other, with the help of an audience member and the two waiters, Alfie and Gareth – I was crying with laughter
My only criticism would be that the sound recording of the band makes it quite hard to understand exactly what they are singing, but I’m splitting hairs really!
I would strongly recommend this as the perfect pick me up for anyone finding self isolation difficult. I guarantee that you will laugh, even if you are not a fan of James Corden and if nothing else it’s a pleasant change from all the Netflix programmes we’ve been binge watching. The set and costume will transport you back to the 1960s and with plenty of ironic references to the years to come combined with some fantastic physical comedy you’re sure to be cheered up.
If you missed the show on Thursday don’t worry you can watch it any time up until 7pm on Thursday 9th April when The National Theatre will begin streaming Jane Eyre – I can’t wait!! Just click the link below and enjoy: