Review: One Man, Two Guvnors at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal

Faint heart never wins fair lady as Francis Henshall (Gavin Spokes) attempts to woo Dolly (Emma Barton from 'EastEnders') in this scene from 'One Man, Two Guvnors' at Nottingham Theatre Royal.
Faint heart never wins fair lady as Francis Henshall (Gavin Spokes) attempts to woo Dolly (Emma Barton from 'EastEnders') in this scene from 'One Man, Two Guvnors' at Nottingham Theatre Royal.

Laughs aplenty are guaranteed with the non-stop comic capers in ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ on at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until this Saturday (January 31).

This update on the mid-1750s Italian original ‘The Servant of Two Masters’ proved it could stand the test of time travel to the modern age as it wowed audiences in London and New York a couple of years ago when it featured James Corden. This role was repeated with equal success by Rufus Hound when it toured to Nottingham two years ago.

Now, it’s the turn of Gavin Spokes, a veteran of the London run, who shows he is just the right guy to get the best out of this smash-hit British comedy, which lives up to its promise of being a unique, laugh-out-loud mix of satire, songs, slapstick and glittering one-liners.

Brighton 1963 is the setting for this seaside silliness as Charlie ‘The Duck’ Clench (alias Norman Pace of ‘Hale & Pace’ fame) plays host to his daughter’s engagement.

Enter Gavin Spokes as sacked skiffle band member Francis Henshall and the die is cast for deceit and double-cross as he becomes minder to fellow party guest Roscoe Crabbe.

However, the wide guy is really Rachel cross-dressing as her brother who had been bumped off by her boyfriend, Stanley Stubbers, who is also looking for manservant . . . so Francis lands dream jobs of working for two bosses.

Confused you might be, but the play’s the real thing as it combines timely references from the 60s to the present day, whether its mobile phones, pubs with real food or that Britain might have a woman PM.

Combine that with split-second timing and gags galore and it seems that panto’s back in fashion as members of the audience get called up onstage to do some heavy lifting while one woman in the stalls who “volunteered” to help prepare a banquet ended up being sprayed in foam for her efforts.

Aiding and abetting this evening of mirth and madness were upper class twit Stanley Stubbers (Patrick Warner), expressive “actor” Alan Dangle (Edward Hancock) and bride-to-be Pauline Clench (Jasmyn Banks).

This National Theatre production has been on the road since last May, but shows no signs of flagging as you can find out by seeing the show before it ends it Nottingham run.

For further details of show times and tickets, £15.50 to £32.50, please contact the Theatre Royal box office on 0115-989-5555 or visit the website at www.trch.co.uk

TONY SPITTLES