RICHARD BEANS'S RETAKE OF THE COMMEDIA DELL'ARTE ICON, "The Servant of Two Masters"
BERKELEY REP PRESENTS THE WEST COAST PREMIERE OF RICHARD BEAN’S AWARD-WINNING BRITISH COMEDY “ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS”
The crowds are laughing almost the entire 2.5 hours watching the bawdy in your face humor of ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS. Part vaudeville, slapstick, and musical, this retake of the classic commedia dell’arte “The Servant of Two Masters” written by Richard Bean, is non stop fun. Bean has set his script in 1963 Brighton England. As you walk into the Roda Theatre we are greeted by a mop top Beatles type pop band who set the mood for the evening.
As the story opens we meet Francis Henshall (Dan Donohue) who needs food money and takes a job working for two bosses. The first boss or “Guvnor” is Stanley Stubbers (William Connell) a smug upper class crook who longs for Rachel Crabbe (Helen Sadler) who is dressed as her dead brother Roscoe. The first act is the basic sit com of keeping both bosses happy and not letting each other know about the gig. The audience is brought into the story many times as Francis breaks the fourth wall and climbs down into the Roda to grab volunteers to help him steal food from his two Guvnors. Connells comic timing and improv with the audience is perfect and very funny.
The second story between Pauline (Sarah Moser) and Alan (Brad Culver) who’s love for each other is one of the best parts of the story. Brad is perfect as an actor playing an actor who talks to us throughout the show about the fact that he is in a play. James Corben (CBS Lateshow, Into the Woods) did this show on Broadway and took a TONY, it is a demanding comic role. Director David Ivers needed to cast a powerhouse for this part and that is Dan Donohue, a Conan O'brien look a like. Dan’s physical timing is splendid, he has played the “servant” in the play this is based on “Two Masters”.
The whole cast is impressive and funny, but Helen Sadler playing the double role of her dead brother is very convincing. The original songs by Grant Olding are performed by a talented four piece band. A british pub sound and of course a knock off for early Fab Four. They perform during scene breaks and before and after the show. As you leave the Roda they are in full swing in the lobby.
I need to mention my favorite “laugh out loud” in the show,Gareth an 87 year old waiter who is the scene stealer in the first act. Played to the slapstick perfection by Danny Scheie as he takes falls tumbles and hits. Local favorite Ron Campbell opens the evening announcing various ground rules before the evening begins. Ron plays Alfie and during the very funny dinner scene he is at his best. The cast hits their marks for their commedia timing as they are convincing at the 60’s British era. The costumes by Meg Neville are period excellent, the setting designed by Hugh Landwehr is Mod, colorful and busy.
This is the perfect romp to end the Berkeley Reps 48th season. If you don’t have a good time at this knee-slapper then I was on the wrong meds. See this show, it runs through June 21.
One Man, Two Guvnors
Written by Richard Bean
Based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
With songs by Grant Olding Directed by David Ivers.
Featuring: Ron Campbell (Alfie),William Connell (Stanley), Brad Culver (Alan), Dan Donohue (Francis Henshall), John-David Keller (Harry Dangle), Becca Lustgarten (Ensemble), Gerry McIntyre (Lloyd Boateng), Sarah Moser (Pauline), Todd Pivetti (Ensemble), Daniel Redmond (Ensemble), Helen Sadler (Rachel), Danny Scheie (Gareth), Steven Shear (Ensemble), Robert Sicular (Charlie Clench), and Claire Warden (Dolly) Creative team: Hugh Landwehr (scenic designer), Meg Neville (costume designer), Alexander V. Nichols (lighting designer), Lindsay Jones (sound designer), and Gregg Coffin (music director). Onstage Band: Casey Hurt (guitar and vocals and band leader), Andrew Niven (drummer), Marcus Högsta (bassist), and Mike McGraw (guitarist).
Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Roda Theatre, 2015 Addison Street @ Shattuck, Berkeley, CA 94704