13-17 January 2015
Reviewed by Victoria Daubney
On a chilly night in January, one thing that will always get me to leave the house is the prospect of a good show at the theatre. Tonight’s treat was that of ‘One Man Two Guvnors’ at The Lowry in Manchester. Already knowing that the cast included Norman Pace (Hale and Pace) and Emma Barton (Eastenders), which I know from their respective TV shows, I was excited to see how they would fare in a stage show, and was looking forward to having a good laugh.
This was opening night and the theatre was buzzing. The show was being held in the Lyric Theatre, which is the largest auditorium and well suited for a show of this popularity. Every seat was full! The staff at The Lowry were extremely friendly and helpful as always, which helps to make the visit a pleasurable experience. The programme for the show was very informative and included a back ground on the playwrite Carlo Goldoni, whose play ‘Il Servitore di Due Padroni (the servant of two masters)’ was the inspiration for this comedy.
If you’re not familiar with the play ‘One Man Two Guvnors’, written by Richard Bean, the storyline shows hard man Roscoe Crabbe returning from the dead and trying to ensure a business arrangement with Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench (Norman Pace) still goes ahead. The main focus though is on Francis Henshall (played by Gavin Spokes from the London production). A man who goes from being down on his luck, to having two jobs and two bosses – although not intentionally! What ensues is the hysterical antics of Francis as he tries to keep his two bosses from finding out about each other, as everyone’s paths seem to cross. Every lead man needs a leading lady, and Francis’ love interest is the big busted Dolly (played by Emma Barton) whose character is larger than life with a hearty Northern accent. Whilst it was quite a small cast, 11 main contenders plus a few extras, each of the characters were strong with their own quirks and mannerisms making them likeable, and cementing their place in the story. Especially Alfie, the deaf, elderly waiter who gets into a few bumps and scraps while serving diner!
The opening stage was set with three microphones and a double bass. 15 minutes before the show was due to start a skiffle band called The Craze came on. They were excellent and not only provided good entertainment, really set the scene for what was to come and the era that the play was set, the dawn of the Beatles, the 60’s. Between scenes while the set was changed, The Craze came back on stage and sang so the tempo was kept up throughout the show. When it wasn’t The Craze performing, it was one of the characters having a turn at singing, the xylophone or the steel drums! Whilst this was going on removal men dressed in brown overcoats and flat caps were the stage hands bringing props on and off. There was quite a lot of audience participation as well, with people being roped into helping moving trunks, sandwiches, and an involuntary waitress. I won’t say anymore as the surprise should be left for when you see the show!
The first half was approximately an hour and a half, although you didn’t realise the time as it seemed to pass so effortlessly. There was a 20 minute interval, where the band was playing again, and the last half was around an hour long. The first half of the show I personally thought was the funniest, while the second half wrapped up the story and brought everything together. My favourite scene was the ending to the first half, where we meet Alfie and Francis has to serve diner to his two unsuspecting guvnors.
This was a first class production with everything from cast members and music, to the set being outstanding. I can’t recommend enough that if you have chance you need to see this show. It will have you laughing, even hours after it’s over. The show is running till the 17th January at The Lowry Theatre in Salford and I would gladly go and see it again, knowing that it would be a great night. 5 out of 5 for the production, the night and the whole experience. Loved it!
Tickets cost from £19 to £31 (includes £2 booking fee).
One Man Two Guvnors is at The Lowry in Manchester until 17 January 2015 For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0843 208 6000.
The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ | 0843 208 6000