Updated: Oct 5, 2019
This Richard Bean comedy is a firm favourite with amateur and professional groups alike. With a large cast of characters and a huge part of the show relying on one man this is still a challenge for all groups who take on One Man, Two Guv’nors.
The Reject Theatre Company has never shied away from hard work and this in no exception. The Brentwood Theatre is an intimate performance space and that lends itself perfectly to this production with such a close physical relationship with the audience, it allows them to literally join in and embrace the production.
Playing the pivotal role of Francis Henshall, the fool, is Barry Hester and Barry plays the fool so well it feels so natural, his comedic timing is spot on and his ability to let the audience laugh with him, as well as at him, was perfectly played. Occasionally his slapstick felt a little ‘tired’ but this is such a physically demanding role and Barry never gave anything less than 200%. I particularly liked the opening scene and his endeavours to get his hands on Dolly’s nibbles. Perfectly timed, understated but an example of how to maintain a character without over playing it. Half the audience would never have noticed this but it was just beautifully delivered.
The first of his two Guv’nors was Victoria Croft as Rachel/Roscoe Crabbe. Playing a woman, playing a man, is a Shakespeare tradition and Victoria was well cast. She embraced the opportunity to ‘Walk like a Man’ and switched effortlessly between Roscoe and Rachel, giving a strong and totally believable performance.
Francis second Guv’nor – Stanley Stubbers was played by Kieran Bacon, whose boarding school rules and posh lifestyle was expertly delivered.
Kevin Richards as Charlie Clench was every inch the east end villain and could easily have passed for the monozygotic Kray twins! While Jon Davis as Harry Dangle oozed as the smarmy and dubious solicitor with ease.
As Charlie’s daughter Pauline, Joanne Quinney was wonderfully vacant and as was quoted in the show “they have tried but they can’t make bricks thicker” and she lived up to this description perfectly. Alan (Orlando) Dangle got all the nuances of the aspiring actor and Kevin Abrey, as Lloyd Boateng added some extra humour direct from Parkhurst!
I really liked Frankie Mae as Dolly – there was something about her interpretation of the character which ticked all my boxes and where do I start with Simon Bristoe as Octogenarian Alfie! Playing an older character can become a caricature but his understanding of the idiosyncrasies of aging made this a fantastic betrayal and his ability to keep delivering the character without stealing the limelight from other characters showed his skill set off.
The audience involvement moments were so well handled and even the accidental change in lighting state – aka blackout near the end didn’t really phase this hugely experienced cast.
A great production and one that, if it comes to a theatre near you, is definitely worth the ticket price!