We arrive at the Haymarket Theatre, London and take our seats in the gallery not really knowing what to expect. There’s not much leg room up in the gods so we squeeze ourselves in and wait for the show to begin. It is such a cosy theatre on a bitterly cold night; a cocoon of warmth! A band come onto the stage and start playing some jaunty 60’s style tunes while the buzz of conversation and anticipation still emits from the audience; you can’t help but bob your head, tap your foot, or slap your thigh along to the music.
These musicians make regular appearances throughout the show in between scenes with the instruments becoming more exceptional as we go on. An array of car horns make an appearance at one point as well as a performance on the steel drums.
Not only the music but the show itself becomes more outlandish as it goes on! We begin at an engagement party in Brighton and we are seriously attempting to follow the plot, locate the protaganist. There a few funny one liners here and there that the audience titters at but apart from that, a steady silence fills the auditorium as we are figuring out the background of the characters, what has happened and what is going to happen next.
Enter Francis Henshall.
We may be forgiven for thinking that he is only a minor character at first but it soon transpires that he is indeed the star of the show. Suddenly finding himself stuck between two jobs in order to earn more money, we see him struggle to appease both of his employers. The complicated plot suddenly becomes less of a concern; you are too caught up crying with laughter.
One particular scene stands out in which Francis struggles to serve both employers their dinner. The hilarity that ensues involving the astonishing flexibility of an elderly waiter had the theatre rocking. The row of chairs we were sat in were bouncing up and down with the weight of people’s laughter. The slapstick comedy and pantomime humour proved too much for a man sat a few seats away from me who continued to laugh even when everyone else had stopped, much to his partner’s embarrassment.
Owain Arthur is brilliant as Francis Henshall, the funniest moments being when he actually breaks character because he can’t contain his laughter! I may be biased (after all, we are both Welsh 😉 ) but he brings such comedic quality to Richard Bean’s already extraordinarily witty character that the result is fantastic.
If you are in serious need of a laugh, One Man, Two Guvnors should be your first port of call. Unless you are like the woman who was sat next to me who apparently was not amused. She was alone in her lack of enthusiasm.