Every year Kate and I seem to make a new year’s resolution that we should go to the theatre more. It’s now November and I’m blogging about the second play we’ve seen this year, which will give you an idea of how successful this particular resolution has been.
The play in question was Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, and updated version of Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, starring James Corden. It received rave reviews but we weren’t quick enough to get tickets when it first opened at the National Theatre. Luckily it was so successful it transferred to the Adelphi Theatre and we managed to get some cheap seats (yes, we were peering down from the vertigo-inducing heights of the upper circle, but at £15 you can’t really complain too much).
Kate gave me a summary of the plot of the original, vaguely remembered from a school production, which involved a woman being dressed as her dead brother, and her servant who also took a job with her ex-boyfriend, who was the brother’s killer. It all sounded somewhat complicated but happily the adaptation, moved from 18th century Italy to 1960s Brighton, made perfect sense.
It was also very, very funny. Not pretentious-types-chuckling-at-some-amusingly-obscure-piece-of-wordplay theatre funny, but genuinely everyone-in-the-theatre-in-hysterics funny. The whole cast is excellent, in particular Oliver Chris as stereotypical toff Stanley Stubbers and Daniel Rigby as aspiring actor Alan. But the star of the show is, of course, James Corden as Francis Henshall. With this performance he can be forgiven for any involvement in Lesbian Vampire Killers – his gift for farcical, physical comedy is inspired and he thoroughly deserves all the praise he’s received for this role.
It’s obviously a hugely popular production – there was a queue outside for returns, although we couldn’t see a spare seat in the house – and is transferring to Broadway next year. If you can get a ticket, I can’t recommend it enough. In fact, I’d say it’s definitely in the top two plays I’ve seen this year.