“ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS”
Reviewed by Tony Annicone
Renaissance City Theatre Inc., the producing entity at the Granite Theatre’s current production is “One Man, Two Guvnors” by Richard Bean. It is an English adaptation of “Servant of Two Master’s”, a 1743 Commedia dell’arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. This version changes the locale from Italy to Brighton in 1963. The man, Francis finds himself having to pick up an second job to just scrape together enough money to buy himself a pint of beer. But he soon finds out having two bosses is more trouble than it is worth.
The two bosses are Roscoe Crabbe, a gangster and Stanley Stubbers, an upper class snob. Only thing is Roscoe isn’t really Roscoe, think Shakespeare with this one, and there is a secret lover mixed into this farcical tale. Complicating things even further is Charley the Duck, who has arranged for his daughter, Pauline’s marriage to Roscoe, even though she prefers over the top actor, Alan Dangle. Throw in several letters, a very heavy trunk, an unlucky audience member,an extremely elderly waiter as well as Francis’ two passions: women, Dolly, Charley’s feminist bookkeeper and food. Director Lee Rush obtains comic performances from her huge cast. The pace of the first act needs to be picked up while the second act played more like the farce it should be. Think Benny Hill for this one, folks.
Leading this huge cast is Keith Eugene Brayne who is a fantastic, comedic performer. His line delivery, facial expressions, dialogue with the cast and at times directly to the audience are outstanding and win sustained laughter all night long. Francis’ main goal in Act 1 is to find food and gobble it up while he becomes very horny in Act 2 as he continually pursues Dolly wanting to take her to Spain to woo her. Bravo! Alyson Fowler is fantastic as Roscoe and Rachel, his identical twin sister who isn’t really identical. Her many comic reasons for pretending to be her brother leads to the spilling of some secrets that Francis has to deal with as her servant. Alyson’s line delivery as this character is right on the money. Also hiring Francis is Tom Steenburg as Stanley who has a terrible temper, yelling at one and all if he doesn’t win his way. A couple of his funniest moments occur when he and Francis light the crepes on fire at the end of Act 1 and when he finds out his girl friend is supposedly dead in Act 2. These two moments have to be seen to be believed. Let me just say there is a lot of water involved with it.
A funny character in the show is Michael Thurber 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 very comical. Fergus Milton is Charley who can’t understand why men and women twins can’t be identical. He also tries to force his daughter to marry a gay man. His daughter is wonderfully played by Danielle Conti while her over the top actor boy friend is excellently played by Hassan Demartino. He is fantastic with his over the top character. He shines in any role he is given.The feminist bookkeeper is excellently played by Erika Strickland who wins many laughs with her clever and funny one liners. So be sure to catch “One Man, Two Guvnors” at Renaissance City Theatre Inc in Westerly before time runs out for a few chuckles and giggles along the way.
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS (4 August to 3 September)
Renaissance City Theatre Inc, Granite Theatre, 1 Granite St, Westerly, RI
1(401)596-2341 or www.granitetheatre.com