Tuesday, 2 July 2013

One Man Two Guvnors, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Finally. It's been running in London (since opening at the National Theatre two years ago) on Haymarket, where it's booking until next year. Given that, a look at the trailer doesn't really seem to do it justice:



In fact, the show is an all-out assault on the fourth wall, an audience-incorporating farce that embraces silly in a slick patois of script and stand-up comedy.

At the head of this is the tireless Rufus Hound. The night I went he dealt with a conspicuous mobile telephone ring with exemplary adjustment of the script in hand (he was discussing a putative wedding 'ring' - you get the idea) - preserving the fragile sense of a proscenium arch before blowing it away with a circus-level stunt involving cashew nuts.

From there the show charges on with no quarter given to tentative heckling or malfunctioning props. It was impossible to tell whether a conversation with someone in the audience about their 'humous sandwich' was real or not, despite Hound doubled up in giggles, as the show flowed on without stumble. Even the bit parts can manipulate their stage-hand walk-on roles given the right temperature and timing. Slapstick abounds. It is extremely funny and the climactic crossed wires of trying to serve both adopted 'guvnors' their lunch in opposite hotel rooms is the high-point of the show.

The third act is necessarily rather more downbeat, like talking the audience off the hysteria-ledge (though it scarcely gets less silly, with musical interludes increasingly tending towards the drunken party pieces of North London students). The end is a big singalong and the slick curtain call taken equally by the live in-house band, The Craze, is a model for all West End shows, of whatever genre.

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