Reviewed by Matt Forrest
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Back in early spring 2020, I was fortunate to attend the season launch for the reopening of the Octagon, which included the programme for the year ahead through to 2021. Instantly one production stuck out, writer Richard Bean’s smash-hit One Man, Two Guvnors. We’re all fully aware what happened next, just under two years have passed and finally the production arrives on the Octagon stage and boy was it worth the wait!
Based on the Servant of Two Masters, a 1743 comedy by the Italian playwright Carlo Goldoni. Set in 1960’s Brighton, One Man, Two Guvnors follows the escapades of dim-witted chancer Francis Henshall (Jordan Pearson) who has somehow landed the job as a hired goon for East End gangster Roscoe Crabbe. All is not what it seems with Roscoe, Roscoe is dead and this is actually his twin sister, Rachel Crabbe (Siobhan Athwal) who is impersonating her dead brother in order to cash in some of brothers debts, so she and her lover, Stanley Stubbers (Laurie Jamieson), can start afresh. To further complicate matters Stubbers’ is responsible for Roscoe’s death.
Francais spots an opportunity to earn a few extra quid and more importantly have a decent meal, working a second job as Stubbers valet. Stubbers is on the run from the law for murder and is just bidding his time to reunite with Rachel. Can Francais keep his two employers from finding out his deception long enough to earn a big pay and end his 16 hours without eating?
Under the direction of Lotte Wakeman with Bean’s near flawless script this is as good as theatre gets and a real treat for comedy fans. Slapstick, farce and some killer one-liners, the show has something for everyone. The beauty lies in the fact that you’re never quite sure where the show is going, such is it’s anarchic nature which really adds to the fun.
The production is anchored by a powerhouse performance from Jordan Pearson who is engaging throughout, his childlike innocence is infectious, as he is driven by hunger, never fully aware or concerned by the chaos he has created.
Pearson is supported by strong performances from the ensemble cast, with Lauire Jamieson getting the lion’s share of the best lines as slightly unhinged toff, Stanley Stubbers. Whilst Javier Marzan as the hapless waiter Alfie, and Qasim Mahood, as the jilted actor, Alan Dangle, both put in superb physically comedic turns.
I cannot recommend this production enough, over-the-top, ridiculous fun from start to finish that will have you grinning from ear-to-ear, an absolute must-see!
One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Bolton Octagon until the 25th June, tickets available here.