Double click for double-barreled delirium at the Monomoy Theater this week as their multi-talented ensemble of student actors, designers, technicians, and musicians prove it's not easy having two bosses at the same time.
"One Man,Two Guvnors," written by Richard Bean, is a roundabout scramble of mistaken identities based on unlikely situations and comedy of confusion. Adapted from Carlo Goldoni's "Servant of Two Masters" (1743), improvisation and even audience participation frivolity, the show became a hit in London in 2011 and on Broadway in 2012, earning seven Tony nominations while anointing the lead comic star James Corden with the ultimate crown as host to "The Late, Late Show".
Absurd, outrageous, preposterous, and splendidly foolish, the play is set in 1963 in the saucy seaside resort Brighton, U.K. Director Terry Layman warns the audience that "anything not to your liking, blame Britain!" Fans of commedia dell'arte, liberal arts majors, and hummus eaters will thoroughly get it all. There are three happy endings but only after the working man Francis Henshall has eaten and feels comfortable to embrace love and his two employers. He blames the problems and almost a double suicide on the non-existent Paddy. Are Roscoe and Rachel really both twin Crabbes? Stanley is the upper class gangster always in arm's length of his solicitor Harry. Is Charlie a loving father to cute Pauline? Gareth is a very proper headwaiter. And Alfie at 87 years young is hysterical.
My favorite Monomoy Theater funnymen have returned once again to command their characters, the stage, and the audience with uproarious performances. Nate Healey's riotous moments as Francis Henshall drinking three beers with a cigarette chaser, eating paper, fighting himself with his own tie in a garbage can clash, and engaging audience members to join him onstage simply rollicks the slanted stage. The audience becomes empathetic to his self-imposed dilemma of pleasing two masters almost simultaneously. Healey for me is a blend of Michael J. Fox, Matthew Broderick, and Jerry Lewis all rolled up into one comedic shooting star. Mac Westcott's Charlie Clench, Kyle Brand's Lloyd Boateng, and Daniel Shea's Stanley Stubbers equally shine in laugh-provoking appearances in and out of two swinging doors, red brick set wings, and baluster staircase. Billy Saunders, Jr. plays the wannabe actor Alan Dangle with over-the-top dramatic glee.
Food on the table plays a role, too, with Gavin McNicholl as head waiter Gareth tending the not-so-deliciously appealing offering. Jack Plozay makes a seriously conniving solicitor Harry Dangle. Caroline Jackson leads the lady comediennes as the serious Rachel-Roscoe Crabbe. Karis Gallant is the oh so pleasant dumb blonde Pauline Clench. Arlene Bozich is commanding as femme fatale Dolly. Tyler Pisani steals every scene he appears as the befuddled, confused, stumbling old man Alfie who actually falls to mortal demise several times during the show, but it's a comedy! You will laugh every time he enters the madness of confusion.
Some audience members may feel how long do I have to put up with this lie? Too long? It's generational. "One Man, Two Guvnors" was another evening at the Monomoy to escape the seriousness of present day events and become immersed in the intrinsic human connection between actors' and audience members' shared needs for the enjoyment of laughter.
Phil Rittner's expert musical quartet of "the Craze" band was a pleasantly anticipated offering unto itself with numerous songs throughout the entire show. Bravo to Gavin McNicholl (guitar, vocals), David Uhl (bass), Dan Liparini (guitar), and Elloit Wallace (percussion). Kevin Nelson's brick facade set and Jelena Antanasijevic's colorful costumes reflected the swinging sixties.
“One Man, Two Guvnors”
At Monomoy Theatre
Through July 9
Information and reservations: