One Man Two Guvnors cast

Get thee to Arts Club’s Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage for One Man, Two Guvnors, Richard Bean’s rip-roaring poke at all things Britain! Based on the Italian theater genre commedia dell’arte and adapted from Carlo Goldoni’s 1753 comedy The Servant of Two Masters, the zany two-act play is filled with music, slapstick, and parody.

Award-winning English playwright Bean has written 20 plays, including Honeymoon Suite (2002), Under the Whaleback (2003), Harvest (2005), The Heretic (2011), and One Man, Two Guvnors (2011), his most celebrated work to date. With One Man, Two Guvnors, Bean won the admiration of popular audiences as well as critics. The play was named 2011’s Best New Play at both the Evening Standard Awards and the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in London.

Lauren Bowler, Cailin Stadnyk, Celine Stubel
[Lauren Bowler, Cailin Stadnyk, Celine Stubel]
The play is set in 1963’s Brighton, England, as change is in the air. A muted palette with floral wallpaper, the Queen’s portrait above a pale blue and gold-accented Union Jack flag-festooned fireplace, and period furnishings hark back to the era, courtesy of Set Designer Amir Ofek.

As the Stanley Theatre was originally built as a vaudeville house, Ofek chose a relevant format to marry with the play’s style, one that infuses musical acts, comedians, and slapstick/acrobatic characters. While One Man, Two Guvnors doesn’t technically feature any acrobats, a few of its characters have got some meaty physical roles.

The story begins at an engagement party at the Clench household. Charlie Clench’s (Gerry Mackay) daughter Pauline (Lauren Bowler) wants to marry Allan Dangle (Ryan Beil) but there’s the sticky matter of a previously arranged marriage of convenience with Roscoe Crabbe (non identical twin to Rachel). There’s been a murder and Rachel’s in disguise as Roscoe for protection.

Andrew McNee
[Andrew McNee]

Andrew McNee (as Francis) is in fine form as he takes on the modern-day role of Arlecchio the servant (operating purely from his id, with a childlike personality). He actually winds up working for two men, Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers, both criminals in their own right. Neither are aware that Francis is working for them both, and that sets the stage for more hilarity.

McNee’s talent is further demonstrated through the physicality of the role. He spends the first act hungry for food, the second act hungry for love. That’s all I’m giving away, as you’ve got to see his character develop in order to truly appreciate his strong, delightful presence on stage.

One Man, Two Guvnors

Another scene-stealer is Vancouver native Ryan Beil (whom we loved in Santaland Diaries). Playing a black leather jacket-clad aspiring stage actor, Beil affects a dialect in Guvnors not unlike the voice of Santa in that previously mentioned show. Perhaps that was his inspiration!

Skiffle band The Craze kick things off as patrons begin to file into their seats. The Beatle-esque foursome immediately set the mood for a light-hearted, fun evening and continue to fill in nicely during set changes. Watch for some crazy musical combos, especially into act two. While laughing our way through the two hour (plus intermission) evening, we were also awed at this production’s creativity!

The Craze
[Spencer Schoening, Scott Perrie, Anton Lipovetsky, Mathew J. Baker]

The four-piece band includes Lead Guitarist/Musical Director Anton Lipovetsky, Bassist Mathew J. Baker, Singer/Guitarist Scott Perrie and Drummer Spencer Schoening. All four talented musicians also act in the production. Anton plays an amusing role as waiter Gareth, keeping pace with grey-haired, still ticking Alfie (Andrew Cownden), who gets in some fine acrobatics as well.

The band kick off act two with a couple of fine numbers, and carry on after the show ends as well, leaving us to wonder why there aren’t more shows offering this kind of entertainment.

Andrew McNee, Celine Stubel
[Andrew McNee, Celine Stubel]

Celine Stubel gets to perform as a man for the better part of the evening, revealing her little secret only when absolutely needed. She plays a tough cookie, matching up to her lover Stanley Stubbers’ (Martin Happer) quirky character, who also gets some fabulous lines.

Cailin Stadnyk, Andrew McNee
[Cailin Stadnyk, Andrew McNee]

Cailin Stadnyk as Dolly gets her character’s point across as the object of ditzy but loving Francis’ affection.

Looking for a good laugh? This is your ticket. Speaking of which, I’ve heard that the entire run is nearly sold out, so if you’re keen on seeing the show, check out the ticket availability online sooner than later.

Directed by David Mackay, One Man, Two Guvnors continues at the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage through February 22.

Photos by David Cooper.

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.