Wednesday, 22 June 2016

"One Man Two Guvnors" by Encore.
Nottingham Arts Theatre.

Shakespeare once said "All the world's s stage" and "laughter is the best medicine", well maybe not the last one, but if said quotes are true then tonight made a world of difference and, had I had been ill I would have been miraculously cured. I can't remember the last time |I laughed so heartily, tell a lie it was at "Fawlty Towers" by the aforementioned Encore!.

Billed as the funniest show on earth by the theatrical powers that be, Encore proved that to be true. I've seen Rufus Hound and Norman Pace play Francis Henshall but neither made me laugh as much as Adam Guest. I can't be accused for being biased with these very talented, funny, wonderful, brilliant, excellent, consummate, outstanding group of actors who, most of them I know reasonably well, so here goes.....

One Man, Two Guvnors, written by Richard Bean, is an English adaptation of Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 Commedia dell'arte style comedy play by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. The play replaces the Italian setting of the original with Brighton in 1963.

Henshall becomes separately employed by two men – Roscoe Crabbe, a local gangster, and Stanley Stubbers, an upper class criminal. Francis tries to keep the two from meeting, in order to avoid each of them learning that Francis is also working for someone else.Roscoe is really Rachel Crabbe in disguise, her twin brother Roscoe having been killed by her lover, who is none other than Stanley Stubbers. Pauline Clench was originally meant to marry Roscoe but is now set to elope with over-the-top amateur actor Alan Dangle.

There's plenty of old skool slapstick and in between the scene changes, "entertainment" is laid on by several of the cast members, all adding to the comedy.

I've almost ran out of superlatives for most of the actors, most of which I have seen in several productions across the county many times in the past. It's almost like having a super-group of actors on the one stage.

Adam Guest is Francis Henshall, although in real life Adam is more intelligent, but just as quick thinking and funny as his character. He handles the improvised sections really well while being mindful of the script, flowing in and out of improvisation as if it had all been written in.

Ross Lowe (Stanley Stubbers) wonderfully upper class and echoes of the Major again from "Fawlty Towers".

Emma Collins (Rachel Crabbe) breaks her duck in her first ever play without being a musical, and hopefully she will add more plays to her roster because she is wonderfully funny.

Jack Readyhoof (Alan Dangle) is hilarious as the actor whose spotlight is always on "full". A hammy character from a brilliant comedy character actor.

Aston Fisher (Pauline Clench), far from the dippy blonde character of Pauline is Aston but always a bundle of fun in real life as well as on stage in character.

Gary Lever (Harry Dangle), another great role to add to Gary's theatrical CV as the Latin spouting solicitor to the Clench's.

Lewis Haycock (Charlie Clench) plays one of the best parts I've seen him perform, and although the character role is aged about mid fifties, he totally made the gangster character believable.

Amy Clover (Dolly) plays Henshall's love interest and the Clench's book-keeper. Voluptuous and sexy, reminiscent of Ruth Jones with some brilliant comedy lines.

Clive Williamson (Lloyd Boateng) is the one actor that that I've not seen before and one that i look forward to seeing again in whatever he does next. He reminded me a little of Paul Barber who played Denzil in "Only Fools & Horses". Clive is a seasoned actor and director and he makes his Encore debut in this role. Boateng is an ex-con from Parkhurst where we discover he learnt most of his life skills!

Kathryn McAuley (Gareth) plays the head waiter at The Cricketer's Arms. Lovely and upper class, who did well not to crack a smile. professional as always.

Kheenan Jones (Alfie) plays the most aged of the characters as the doddery old waiter with the pacemaker who is great fun to watch. You were just hoping that he would drop or spill one of the meal items, but he didn't.

Brilliant audience involvement, which at one stage even had the ever professional Mr Guest and Ms Collins lose composure for a second or three, and there was a near possibility that Lewis almost slipped from character (which he held on to steadfastly) with the scene surrounding the diary and a comment to an audience member.

Director Ollie Turner did a brilliant job, and with comedy there's always that pressure to keep the comedy rolling and the timing tight, all of which Ollie achieved, along with his assistant director, Verna Bayliss.A ridiculously talented and experienced team behind this show including producer Sam Griffiths.

This is the premiere of this play by a community drama group. A group who are not afraid to take on performances that other groups may shy away from. They take risks and so far they are paying off. It was just a shame though that Tuesday night was not better attended because you're missing out on a very, very funny piece of theatre, performed by a very talented and hard-working band of actors who deserve to be supported. And not only that, they are all really nice people in real life.

"One Man Two Guvnors" is on at the Nottingham Arts Theatre until Saturday 25 June 2016. Go on , you know you deserve a laugh, oe several, you've earned it!

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