Review: One Man, Two Guvnors @ WMC
So here it is. The most sought after comedy in the theatre is in Cardiff and only for the week. For some time this was a vehicle for James Corden. But now we are joined by Welshman Owain Arthur for the lead role. Having spoken to him the day earlier for a phone interview, he was in my mind all day. He made some very good points about the play and acting in general. I had not seen Corden in this role, but I think on this occasion, like with the rugby, us Welsh do it better.
Arthur was a force of nature. His comic timing was brimming with little tricks and swagger. The audience lapped it up. I found myself laughing and tittering on many occasions. Going to see a comedy in the theatre can be a much more relaxing environment than say a classical concert or 'serious drama'. Humour today is very important and we need to have a good chuckle now and again. Like I told Arthur, "laughter is the gateway to the soul".
His first line was, "Who's that?', pointing to the Queen. I wondered how Welsh nationalist this was going to go. But it soon fell on the wayside.
This is the National Theatre's first visit to the WMC. I have wondered if a play would work in the Donald Gordon Theatre. Yes, the acoustics are world class, but it's different for works with music. None of the actors were amplified I should note as well. Based on Goldoni's A Servant Of Two Masters, this adaptation is set in 1960s Brighton. Throughout the performance a band adorn the stage with throwback 60s songs. I am a sucker for anything 60s-themed. But this was in the early part of the decade, pre-hippy movement, which is still all fine and good.
One thing that left me in a bit of bother was the audience partition. No hecklers, but rather the audience members who were put on stage and asked to do all sorts of things. Two men were asked to move a crate. One lady who was sitting on her own in the front row, was dragged on stage and pushed all overtone place, holding a dinner bowl of soup, hiding under a table, had a fire extinguisher set on her and then hit her head on the door. My smile of laughter soon turned into a deep frown of shock as the latter two things happened to her.
What made it look real was what looked like one of the crew of the WMC, all dressed in black checked to see if she was OK and escort her off the stage. It's also that case of it's only funny unless it happens to you. It appears that these audience members were part of the show. This is usually disappointing as it loses its sense of improvisation. All I'll say is make sure you bring a sandwich with you if you are going to it see. You'll understand why when you do...
The whole cast as well were real good spirits. Edward Bennett as Stanley Stubbers proved to be the quintessential Englishman, even if the role was snobby and racist. I'm sure they had an absolute ball when rehearsing this. I would like to think that if I ever carried on with acting, I would love to play Francis Henshall.
So beg, steal or borrow for a ticket. Just make sure you bring a sandwich, don't sit in the first few rows or snort while laughing.
Related Article: One Man, Two Guvnors Interview: Owain Arthur