Strange title for a farce: One Man: Two Guvnors. It’s direct, but it doesn’t feel direct. Resourceful servant Frank (Francis) Henshall is working for two different men without either of them knowing, which keeps him (and us) on our toes. Frank maintains a cozy, ongoing aside with the audience, which feels fresh and spontaneous, along with lively musical interludes by four piece band, “The Quid.” It all has a relaxed, congenial demeanor, which serves the pervasive, deadpan silliness well. One never loses the sense of wonder and enigmatic alchemy that makes a particular comedy fizzy and sublime while others, with similar aims, will crash and burn. How can they all be so wildly divergent?
One Man: Two Guvnors (more or less) hangs on the plot, attorney Harry Dangle’s son, perpetually suffering Alan Dangle, cannot Marry Rachel Crabbe, when her previously believed missing fiance inconveniently returns. Frank must come to the rescue, though this happens less by design than fortuitous mishaps. Each character has their own shtick, Frank is the blue collar bloke who takes full advantage of the clueless privileged class, Rachel is optimistically dim, Alfie, the ancient, hobbling waiter who bounces back from countless blows, kicks and nasty falls. When Alan agonizes over the tumultuous injustices he must endure, with great style and vivid bathos, the other characters explain his behavior with three simple words: He’s an actor.
One Man: Two Guvnors is a bit of a mash-up not unlike The Marx Brothers, though without quite as much absurdity. Several different styles: banter, non-sequitur, slapstick, improbable cross-dressing….all blend seamlessly, often broken up by Frank’s conversation with playgoers. A million things, it seems, could go wrong with this chaotic melange, but somehow it doesn’t. There are definitely gags that wouldn’t have flown in less enlightened times, but happily, the ribald and ridiculous, they all come fast and bright and delightfully. Cracker-jack comic actor Brian Gonzales (as Frank) leads a goofy, stalwart and marvelously punchy cast. Go on, then. Treat yourself to a night of giggles and guffaws.
WaterTower Theatre presents: One Man: Two Guvnors, playing August 5th– 28th, 2016. 15650 Addison Road, Addison, Texas 75001. 972-450-6232. www.watertowertheatre.org