One Man, Two Guvnors: Farce written by Richard Bean and based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, with songs by Grant Olding and directed by David Ivers. Berkeley Repertory Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison St., Berkeley. (510) 647-2949. www.berkeleyrep.org.
May 15 – June 21, 2015.
One Man, Two Guvnors a smash hit at Berkeley Rep [rating:5]
Berkeley Rep in a co-production with South Coast Repertory Theatre closes out their 2014-2015 season with an unqualified hit of Richard Bean’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 17th century masterful farce The Servant of Two Masters. Every creative aspect of what makes theatre great is on display starting with the four piece skiffle band, named The Craze that entertains the audience before the many shenanigans begin, for scene changes.
That marvelous skiffle band includes Casey Hurt (guitar and vocals and band leader), Andrew Niven (drummer), Marcus Högsta (bassist), and Mike McGraw (guitarist) who remain on stage for the entire performance and occasionally mingle with the cast who step out of their assigned roles to do a solo turn in front of the proscenium arch curtain decorated with red, white and blue British flags (scenic design Hugh Landwehr). The original songs created by the talented Grant Olding are flawlessly integrated into the evening by musical director Gregg Coffin and staged by Gerry McIntyre who also takes his turn as one of the actors.
Every one of those actors earn accolades along with the star of the show Dan Donohue whose mobile body, expressive face and perfect comedic timing are hilarious and a joy to watch. It is certain that parts of those routines are aided by the fantastic direction of David Ivers keeping the nonstop action in sync with the hysterical entrance and exits needed for farce with the obligatory slamming of doors and pratfalls.
Author Bean has updated the farcical plot to 1960s Brighton Beach starting with the engagement party for Alan (Brad Culver) and Pauline (Sarah Mosher), the children of two gangster families. Disruption begins when the always hungry Francis Henshall (Dan Donohue), the “one man” of the title, enters as the servant of his guvnor Roscoe. Roscoe actually is Rachel (Helen Sadler), the twin sister in disguise. Along comes Rachael’s lover, the handsome self-absorbed Stanley (William Connell) who has killed Roscoe (don’t ask why). Stanley becomes the second guvnor with Francis as his servant. The title is now complete, so let the fun begin.
It begins with a side-splitting routine of Donohue attempting to move a trunk and he ventures into the audience bringing two men up on the stage to aid him. This is the first venture of audience participation so be warned not to sit in the front rows. Not only is there audience participation, the characters often break the fourth wall addressing and often going in the audience. You will have to attend to show to learn the rest of the story that follows Goldini’s original plot that fits in with Bean’s brilliant re-imagination.
Each of the major characters has their turn in the spotlight with an added attraction of the Ron
Campbell playing Alfie the hard of hearing waiter with a pacemaker and a wild head of hair. He has been assigned the requisite pratfalls but be assured with his professionalism no bones are broken.
The running time of two hours and 30 minutes with an intermission races by proving Alfred Lord Whitehead’s definition of relative time. Highly recommended.
CAST: Ron Campbell (Alfie); William Connell (Stanley Stubbers); Brad Culver (Alan); Dan Donohue (Francis Henshall); John-David Keller (Harry Dangle); Becca Lustgarten (Ensemble); Gerry McIntyre (Lloyd Boateng); Sarah Moser (PaulineClench); Todd Pivetti (Ensemble); Daniel Redmond (Ensemble); Helen Sadler (Rachel/Roscoe); Danny Scheie (Gareth); Steven Shear (Ensemble); Robert Sicular (Charlie Clench); and Claire Warden (Dolly).
CREATIVE TEAM: Hugh Landwehr (scenic designer); Meg Neville (costume designer); Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer); Lindsay Jones (sound designer); and Gregg Coffin (music director). Onstage band: Casey Hurt (guitar and vocals and band leader), Andrew Niven (drummer), Marcus Högsta (bassist), and Mike McGraw (guitarist).
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com
At Berkeley Rep, Dan Donohue stars as Francis Henshall, a failed skiffle player who finds himself juggling two masters, in Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors, a delicious mash-up of splendid comedy, British pantomime, and music-hall revues. Photo courtesy of mellopix.com