One Man, Two Guvnors

Old Joint Stock Theatre


One Man, Two Guvnors is a step away from the usual fringe style productions presented at the Old Joint Stock and it may not quite be what the regulars have come to expect.

Director Adam Lacey works hard to stage this play (with music) within the confines of the small studio theatre and makes good use of the stage space. 

The commedia dell’arte, slapstick comedy written by Richard Bean and based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, requires precision timing and perfect pace, both of which are somewhat lacking in this production. 

Some lines are delivered with hesitation and entrances at times seem delayed and laboured.  The set changes made by the cast are clean and quick, and the occasional improvised character interactions help to keep the flow of the piece without too much distraction.

Francis Henshall, played by Jack Robertson is central to the story.  The loveable rogue finds himself working for two guvnors in order to fund his huge appetite for ‘haddock and chips and mushy peas’.  

In a desperate attempt to keep his bosses, Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers, from finding out that he is working two jobs he creates a fictional Irish pal, Paddy.  Add to this the fact that Rachel Crabbe is disguised as her twin brother Roscoe, who was murdered by Rachel’s boyfriend Stanley Stubbers, and the tangled web is quickly woven.

The cast as a whole work hard and put a lot of enthusiasm into the production, perhaps a little too much at times. As a result some of the one liners feel thrown away or lost and the dip in pace and timing gives an air of awkwardness to the funny, but not hilarious, physical theatre.

All this being said the production is certainly entertaining with some good comedic moments.  The timing and pace improve in the second act as the actors settle into their roles and they engage the audience more successfully.

Edward Barr-Sim is excellent in the role of Stanley Stubbers, he keeps the pace flowing and delivers his one liners perfectly.

Hannah Fretwell plays  Roscoe/ Rachel Crabbe in a understated and well judged manner and adds great timing to the dry humour of her character.

Jack Robertson as Henshall does a good job of the physical slapstick, working up a sweat as he literally throws himself into the role. He doesn’t quite master the improvisation needed to fully involve the audience but certainly manages to entertain.

Alexander Varey as the wannabe actor Alan (Orlando) Dangle is very well cast. His over dramatic, stagey delivery is just right and at times he steals the show.

Well supported by Martin Rossen as Charlie Clench, Lisa MacGregor as Pauline Clench, Victoria Piper as Dolly, Tony McPherson as Lloyd Boateng and William Hayes as Harry Dangle.

Well worth a visit to the Old Joint Stock if you want a bit of laugh and evening of light entertainment. You can even make a night of it and grab a meal in the pub that does food. To 16-12-17.

Rosemary Manjunath


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