Tuesday, May 26, 2015

theatre review - ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS - Phoenix Theatre - May 23, 2015

Ron May and Joseph Kremer
(photo: Erin Evangeline Photography)
"Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors is a very funny mash up of British music hall comedy, a variety show, and a farce. Phoenix Theatre is presenting the Phoenix regional premiere, with Ron May giving a hilarious performance as the "one man." May's entire supporting cast is also having a blast and this production is a laugh riot filled with many side-splitting moments as well as a few fun musical numbers....That play focuses on a harlequin who gets into comical situations while working for two bosses...one is a criminal in hiding, the other a local gangster who just recently killed a man. ...Francis Henshall, believing he has hit the jackpot by having two jobs at the same time, relishes his new found wealth. But with his constant cravings for food and women always on his mind, he unfortunately can't keep the two jobs straight. He also has to ensure that his two bosses never meet, which adds plenty of farcical situations and slapstick comedy bits. Needless to say, hilarity ensues...with the results including mistaken identity, pratfalls, secret identities, and the character of Henshall constantly breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the audience members—a few of whom find themselves up on stage. Bean has crafted some great gag moments that provide May plenty of opportunities to show his comic abilities....May is the star here and he is a comic genius. He gives it his all and flings himself about the stage, attempting to avert disaster at every possible turn, while at the same time also having a sweet engagement with the audience. May doesn't oversell the comedy, instead giving many of the comedic lines a soft delivery, which actually works better and makes the humor more organic. He expertly interacts with the other actors playing various oddball characters, provides plenty of funny bits with his many interactions with the audience, and perfectly gets the humor in the many gags he takes part in. He also comes across as a very lovable harlequin, which provides some heart to the whole affair. I saw James Corden play the part on Broadway, and May is just as good as Corden was....May and the entire cast instill their characters with comical traits and throw themselves into the roles with equal abandonment. They also have to elicit an improvisational feel to their parts, even though some of the improv is meticulously scripted, and they all deliver in spades....Director Pasha Yamotahari keeps the lunacy going at a fever pitch and has crafted, along with Bean, some very inspired moments. ...With multiple laugh out loud moments and a fun cast led by a superb performance by Ron May, Phoenix Theatre's One Man, Two Guvnors is definitely the funniest show in town." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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