“ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS”
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Contemporary Theater’s second comedy of their summer season is “One Man, Two Guvnors” by Richard Bean, an English adaptation of “Servant of Two Masters”, a 1743 Commedia dell’arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. The play changes the Italian locale to 1963 Brighton. Francis finds himself picking up a second job to just scrape together enough money to buy himself a pint. But he soon finds out that keeping his two bosses, rivals in the mob scene from finding out about each other is more trouble than he bargained for.
The two men are Roscoe Crabbe, a gangster and Stanley Stubbers, an upper class twit. Complicating events Roscoe isn’t really Roscoe, think Shakespeare on this one, and there is a secret lover in this twist in the story. With secrets and lies flying about, Francis tries his best to keep it all under control. Complicating matters even further is local mobster Charlie the Duck, who has arranged his daughter Pauline’s engagement to Roscoe despite her preference for the over the top amateur actor, Alan Dangle. Throw in several letters, a very heavy trunk, several unlucky audience volunteers, an extremely elderly waiter and Francis’ pursuit of his twin passions: Dolly, Charlie’s feminist bookkeeper and, food. Director Sami Avigdor casts these farcical performers wonderfully, gives them a great deal of shtick, pratfalls and facial expressions to keep the audience in stitches all night long.
Leading this 11 member cast is Rico Lanni as Francis. His over the top antics are priceless as he speaks to the audience and other characters while trying to eat constantly in Act 1 and get in a girl’s pants in Act 2 by taking her to Spain. Sarah Reed shines as Rachel and Roscoe playing identical twins that aren’t identical. Her secret motives are hilarious as she hires the dumber than dirt Francis. Also hiring him is Tyler Brown as Stanley who has a terrific temper and has many hilarious moments especially when he thinks his girlfriend is dead and when he and Francis light the crepes on fire.
One of the funniest characters in this show is Jeremy Chaing as the 87 year old, Alfie who has a pace maker and can’t hear very well. His pratfalls, facial expressions and one liners are priceless. When his pacemaker is turned up to nine and puts him into racing around mode received the biggest laugh of the night. Playing Charlie the Duck is Bob Mignarri who tries to force his daughter to marry a gay man against her wishes and can’t understand why a boy and girl can’t be identical twins. Nicholas Fazio does an excellent job as Lloyd,an ex-con who owns a restaurant they go to. Isobel McCullough wins many laughs as the dumb blonde daughter with her clever antics. Terry Simpson plays a legal speaking lawyer while Devon Andrews plays the over acting son. Alynne Miller plays the feminist bookkeeper working for Charlie that is lusted after by Francis. Rounding out the cast is Ezra Jordan as a waiter and cop and Justine Moore as a hapless audience member roped into the lunacy of the show. So for a madcap romp, be sure to catch “One Man, Two Guvnors” at Contemporary Theater Company before time runs out.
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (14 July to 12 August)
Contemporary Theater Company, 327 Main St, Wakefield, RI
1(401)218-0282 or www.contemporarytheatercompany.com