Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

one man

Francis, the one man, played by Daniel Robert Beaton (centre) flanked by his two Guvnors, Stanley, Matt Lidlam and Rachel/Roscoe, Rachael Louise Pickard surrounded by cast and crew. Pictures. Roy Palmer.

One Man, Two Guvnors

Hall Green Little Theatre


It’s really one man, two guvnors and more laughs than you can count in Richard Bean’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 1743 Commedia dell’arte style comedy Servant of Two Masters.

Bean moved it on 220 years from Italian high society to set it in Brighton low life in 1963 and turned it into a huge world-wide hit, helping to make James Corden an international star in the process.

The result is a very English romp, full of pratfalls, innuendo and daftness with hardly a single character who could be described as remotely normal.

There is Charlie Clench, played with a middle-class air by Jon Richardson. Charlie is an ex-London gangster with an IQ high enough to allow him to walk upright. He has a dodgy past, and let’s be honest, dodgy present and future, and once lived on the Isle of Wight for a while (Parkhurst) where he met best friend Lloyd. Charlie now runs a scrap yard and struggles with the concept of twins – among other intellectual problems.

Lloyd, the nearest to normal in the hands of Roger Warren, is a chef with three year’s intensive training (Parkhurst) who is now running The Cricketer’s Arms in Brighton.

Charlie’s daughter is Pauline, who lowers the average IQ of dumb blondes quite considerably, played with a delightful air of stupidity by Megan Matthews. She wants to marry Alan Dangle, an aspiring Thespian, who speaks, walks and probably sleeps his life in a series of grand exaggerated gestures; Sami Ansari gives us a man with more ham than Ye Olde Oak who is smitten with Pauline like a bus – just remember, he’s a would be actor not a writer, so let’s just accept – smitten like a bus.

His father is Harry Dangle, played by Richard Woodward, a solicitor as dodgy as his clients, who sees himself as up market so lives in Rottingdean. He charges huge fees and displays his superior intellect by speaking in a mixture of small print, legalese, pigeon Latin and gobbledygook.

Then there is Charlie’s book keeper Dolly, a lovely performance from Gemma McCaffrey. Dolly is, well, let’s say she is heading into desperate territory when it comes to men – like she is after one . . . any one.


Daniel Robert Beaton's Francis in conversation with . . . himself

And they are all gathered for a party to mark Pauline’s engagement to Alan, except along comes Roscoe Crabbe, who was engaged to Pauline until he was murdered last week but, he has now risen Lazarus-like to claim his bride.

Except Sarf London gangster Roscoe is really his twin sister Rachel, played by a cross-dressing Rachael Louise Pickard, who adds a nice touch of menace to proceedings. The late Roscoe had a financial deal with Charlie which Rachel wants to cash in so she can escape with her lover Stanley to Australia – even though neither of them like opera.

Stanley, who needs to escape simply because he killed Roscoe – are you keeping up at the back – is the product of an all-boys boarding school with some unsavoury practices and has a nice line in obscure sayings with an up-market twist in the well-manicured hands of Matt Ludlam.

With Rachel/Roscoe and Stanley the two Guvnors, that leaves us with just the one man, Francis Henshall. Now Daniel Robert Beaton doesn’t appear to do subtle, so we have an in yer face Henshall careering around the panto end of the pool, suffering from what appears to be a recurring groin problem or perhaps a trouser malfunction in the zip region, and all the while causing mayhem wherever he goes, involving the audience at every turn. It is a big part and Beaton carries it with boundless enthusiasm.

There is good support from Andrew Cooley as Gareth the waiter and a young Luke Ellinor staggers around the stage on shaky legs – the rest is pretty shaky as well – as the 87-year-old Alfie on his first day as a waiter despite being deaf, partially sighted and running on a pacemaker.

A collection of 60’s numbers sung by the cast with music from Geddes Cureton, adds to the mood during scene changes on a set designed and built by director Roy Palmer.

Palmer keeps things moving along at a hectic, sometimes frantic pace so the laughs come thick and fast even when they should not have been there.

There is a point where Francis is keeping his two Guvnors apart in private dining rooms in the Cricketers – and nicking as much food as he can, stuffing it in a tureen held by Christine, who has been dragged up from the audience.

He is about to make crepes whereupon the sprit stove should have exploded into fire and flames. It didn’t which probably brought a bigger laugh as Francis and Stanley told us to use our imagination and proceeded to put out the non-existent blaze, drenching Christine in the process. Fast thinking bringing quick laughs.

Bean’s clever script allied to a cast having the time of their lives creates a most entertaining and fun evening much enjoyed by a near full house. To 21-07-18

Roger Clarke 


Home Reviews A-Z Reviews by affiliate