Review / ‘Outrageous’ show satisfies comedic hunger

theatre / “One Man Two Guvnors”, by Richard Bean, Canberra Repertory, Theatre 3, until December 2. Reviewed by JOHN LOMBARD.

Arran McKenna and Patrick Galen-Mules at the Arms. Photo by Helen Drum

DIRECTOR Chris Baldock’s production of “One Man Two Guvnors” serves up a buffet of delight that will satisfy anyone hungry for end-of-year comedy.

Playwright Richard Bean’s update to a Goldoni farce is somewhere between commedia dell’arte and a “carry on” film, with the cast using generous improvisation to take ownership of the play.

Arran McKenna gives a puckish, marathon performance as Francis, the servant who causes chaos by juggling two jobs, with the elaborate dinner scene at the end of the first act a particular highlight.

Performances are daft, over-the-top and hilarious, whether it is Paul Sweeney as a prosperous but cowardly gangster, Holly Ross as his unbelievably daft daughter, Pauline, Brenton Cleaves as a relentless ham actor, or Michael Cooper as a half-dead geriatric waiter.

Patrick Galen-Mules and Meaghan Stewart shine as Francis’ two masters, lovers separated by misunderstanding, cross-dressing, murder, and sometimes seagulls.

Steph Roberts as Dolly centres the show by providing a beacon of common sense in the madness, elevating this love interest part with presence and wit.

If some of the ideas or jokes are undercooked, it is only because the director and cast are determined to squeeze every drop of comedy out of the play.

In places, some of the slapstick could have been tighter or faster, but the comedy was so varied that there was something for anyone.

If opening night was any indication, the cast is thoroughly enjoying performing the show, and audiences will find similar entertainment in this daft, messy, outrageous, singular production.

 

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