I didn’t get a chance to see this when it opened. Over the last year if I had a pound for everyone who said “have you seen One Man Two Guvnors?” I could certainly have paid for a trip to see it on Broadway.
So the other night I went along with some pals to finally see it. For 2 of my friends this was their second visit and for one it was his third time. With such a theatrical thumbs up I thought I was in for a treat. Alas this show failed to live up to its hype for me, let me explain why:
Firstly I’ve seldom seen a cast “going through the motions” as much as most of this cast did. It lacked any sense of spontaneity and the cast seemed to lack panache and zeal.
Some lines were lost as they failed to project fully, it felt a bit tired. They have a two-week break soon, it appears they need it. Except this is a West End show, they should be firing on all cylinders EVERY night. Nicholas Hynter needs to pop down and cast his directorial eye on it as they’ve grown complacent I think.
Secondly I think Act 2 really lets it down. The best jokes are in Act 1, in the second act we descend into plastic penis territory to get cheap laughs. As a wise performer once told me “not all laughs are good laughs”.
Thirdly the repetition of gags, pratfalls and jokes enters the realm of the law of diminishing returns far too often. It may have been funny when Martin Barrass falls downstairs the first time however on the third one it failed to get much more than a titter.
I felt Owain Arthur was too egotistical and self-indulgent in his role. My friend felt he was too aggressive compared to James Corden and didn’t engage as well with the audience.
The use of stooges was really the final nail in the coffin for me though. I think this is the root cause of why it felt complacent and tired as a show. I felt cheated when I realised they were stooges. I also don’t think there’s a need for them either actually, as the performers should be able to cope with handling “real people” as is occasionally shown by some of the banter they have with the “real” audience.
I think this would be better as a one-act play as I really don’t think it holds the attention for the 2hrs and as I’ve said Act 2 just doesn’t deliver, as the plot has nowhere to go really.
I DID like ; Ben Mansfield as Stanley and Phil Cornwell as Charlie “the Duck” Clench. They certainly gave their all and got the biggest laughs from me.
I did laugh out loud on occasions, don’t get me wrong, I did try to engage with it, I didn’t sit being all curmudgeonly. It’s just the laugh out loud moments were not as regular as I was expecting and I certainly wasn’t rolling in the aisle.
It’s not awful, I just fell for the hype so only have myself to blame, I should have known better. My friend who was seeing it for 3rd time commented how poor he felt this cast was in comparison to original one. The National Theatre have been striving to make a point the show was bigger than its original cast. It looks like that this is not the case.
Was it worth the wait? I’m glad I got to see it, and it was an enjoyable night out with friends at the theatre, but I can’t agree with the plaudits and praise some have heaped on this show however I’m aware they saw a different cast and so it seems a different show to me.
STARS : * * *