Reviewed by Jayne Knight
The story is adapted by Richard Bean, from The Servant of Two Masters, a comedy written by Carlo Goldini in 1746. Having had a successful run at the National Theatre, London, in 2011, the production is now available to amateur groups, being performed across the country.
Lichfield Players, under the direction of Maureen George, have shown they are capable of what I consider to be one of the most difficult genres of theatre – farce. With twists and turns, high speed dialogue, split second timing and characters put into seemingly impossible situations, from which they need to be extracted, this Company have excelled.
The story is set in Brighton in the early 1960s, where we are invited into an engagement party for Pauline (Lucy Dufaye), daughter of Charlie ‘The Duck’ Clench (Andy Jones) and Alan (Dickie Bannister), an aspiring actor. Everything is going well, until two visitors arrive. One is Francis Henshall; the other, his guvnor, Rachel Crabbe (Kathy Coombes).
From this point on subterfuge and misunderstandings abound, when Francis unwittingly finds himself a second guvnor in the shape of Stanley Stabbers (Patrick Jervis), with his upper class, public school accent and something to hide.
Francis, ever hungry, juggles with the needs of his two guvnors, only succeeding on digging himself deeper into the mire. When all parties decide to eat lunch in the local pub, The Cricketers, each demanding personal service from Francis, chaos ensues.
The two waiters, Gareth and the newly appointed Alfie (Ron Hughes and Nick Baker) become embroiled in the subterfuge with, for Alfie, disastrous effects. As a member of the audience you can really feel for him as he takes the brunt of the physical comedy.
As the lives of Pauline, Alan, Francis, Stanley and Rachel become ever more interlinked, the supporting cast each play excellent roles, bringing their own je ne sais quoi which only adds to the dimensions of the production. With superb casting, all of the lead characters are in equal measure responsible for carrying the story through to its conclusion.
However, I cannot complete this review without mention of The Scrapyard Skiffle Band. On stage throughout the performance, they provide authenticity of the era plus pleasurable music whilst detracting attention from the on-stage scene changes.
Running until Saturday 2nd February, with a matinee at 2.30pm this production is well worth watching.
Tickets cost from £15 to £16 (booking fees may apply).
One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Lichfield Garrick from 31 January to 2 February 2019, for more information or to book tickets visit www.lichfieldgarrick.com or call the box office on 01543 412121.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre, Castle Dyke, Lichfield, WS13 6HR | 01543 412121