This was the most beautiful piece of theatre i have seen in a long time. Even though i am only 17 i have been going to the theatre on a weekly basis since i was very young. this play craftily mixes humor and exciting plot. in m opinion this play is above and beyond The Collaborators (which i an very happy moved from the Olivier theatre!) and frankenstein. this is a must see, even if you are not an avid theatre goer it is a once in a life time experience and you will leave with tears in your eyes and a six pack from laughing so much! :D - Nancy
08 Apr 12
Saw the cinema broadcast and immediately came home and booked for whole family to see the show. I haven't laughed like that for years. We all had a wonderful time, and have spent the last week giggling and saying, 'That bit when...'. A marvellous production, an excellent cast - and a stand-out star performance from James Corden. Magnificent..! - Sue
12 Jan 12
Mystified by the enthusiasm. Very very thin material padded out by terrible "tribute music" and third rate slapstick. Farce is the hardest thing in theatre to pull off. Some of the audience stood and clapped at the end, others sat in bewildered silence. It takes all sorts. - Graham McKean
04 Jan 12
WE SAW THE SHOW LAST NIGHT AND FRANKLY I FOUND VERY CHILDISH AND IMMATURE
IT WAS NOT FUNNY AT ALL.
I COULD GET BETTER LAUGHS FROM A KIDS PANTOMINE I REALLY DO NOT KNOW WHY THIS SHOW WAS GIVEN 5 STARS BY EVERYONE
NEVER SEEN SO MUCH RUBBISH IN ALL MY LIFE - dave
02 Dec 11
One word -- brilliant! - Judith Cherry
12 Nov 11
What am I missing, here? This was the most amateurish, poorly constucted piece of theatrical drivel I have ever witnessed. A classic case of The Emperor's New Clothes, the audience refuse to acknowledge this feeble attempt at slapstick for fear of sharing in the realisation that 3 hours and a few quid have Gone West.Would we have flocked to the theatre in such numbers if a TV "star" had not been treading the boards? I doubt it, especially given the threadbare plot and chronic stagecraft. It made Brian Rix's 1960s' farces seem the epitome of high drama.
Does anyone remember Norman Wisdom and Bruce Forsyth's wallpaper sketch? Well, in this play the "meal scene" managed to promote our Norman and Sir Bruce into the pantheon of great character actors. Corden is all right behind the desk in A league of... On stage he is a bumbling fool - and I am not being complimentary, His comic timing is clumsy and his ability to draw pathos is , well, pathetic,
A point to consider - I am Scottish and find such slapstick humour both cruel and unfunny. There was no subtlety to this play. Is it more fitting for a southern audience who prefer their ham in thick slices? Some compare it to panto - well, I can only assume they are referring to the all- celeb(??) tv pantos so revilled north of the border.
Do not be fooled by the rave reviews. People can and are wrong. You can fool quite a lot of the people quite a lot of the time. - Ricky
30 Oct 11
I cried with laughter for a huge chunk of the dinner scene, what an amazing, entertaining night out. Like many, I was not a James Corden fan before; I am now - Neil
16 Oct 11
Saw this last night at the Lowry...Outstanding, a great evening's entertainment. - Chris
16 Oct 11
Saw the production at The Lowry last night. Amazingly entertaining and a sheer joy to be part of an audience having so much fun. - Joanie
15 Oct 11
The best Sunday evening I've spent in a long time. Anyone who went to church won't know what they missed! I saw it in the cinema in Aberystwyth. The theatre link is an innovation and I am amazed that it hasn't been thought of before now. James Corden was his usual amazing self and the ad libs were incredible. I laughed till I cried. Well done to the whole very talented cast. - Mrs Noreen Davies
02 Oct 11
I am so proud of my daughter-in-law Francesca Manfrin who did the literal translation. I saw the production in a theater in the US and was not really prepared to like it - an old Italiena Farce?! I loved it - laughed until my sides hurt and the rendition of the play in the 1960's was fabulous - Rorry Zahourek
23 Sep 11
Really really funnny, so well done with great direction and attention to detail. I wasn't a fan of James Corden, but am now, he was surprisingly impressive. Loved Jemima, Oliver and Daniel too. Just the funniest play I have ever seen, so glad I caught it at the intimate National before it goes to the West End. - Steph
23 Jul 11
James Corden gives one of the finest performances i have ever seen on a stage. I went with my 11 year old daughter and my 66 year old mother. To have both of them laughing at the same time is something special indeed. - Anna Goode
07 Jul 11
With all the 5-star reviews here and in the papers I was really looking forward to this but for some reason I just didn't get it. Perhaps it's my antipathy for James Corden whose ego is clearly out of control or maybe I outgrew Carry On humour at fourteen. Despite Nick Hytner's admonishment the cast, and Corden in particular, are making large amounts up as they go along, frequently bringing proceedings to a halt with attempts to interact with the audience. Oliver Chris was impressive as a public school idiot but this is basically a pantomime for grown ups. I don't think I'm alone in this view as the Lyttelton was not convulsed in collective hysterics as it had been for Season's Greetings. - David Baxter
06 Jul 11
For the first 10 minutes or so, I worried that I might not enjoy this but it wasn't long before I was laughing loudly. From what I've subsequently read the performance we saw included a good deal of improvisation which hasn't gone down too well with Nick Hytner. Still, it made the show even funnier. This is the perfect vehicle for James Cordern who must be exhausted after delivering his performance each night. Great work too from Oliver Chris who delivers some of the shows best lines, Tom Edden as the elderly waiter who had me in stitches and Daniel Rigby being very actorly. Is there a funnier night out in London right now? - Paul Wallis
04 Jul 11
Every one of the FIVE stars given here are worthy and should be gold plated. This is farce at its most inventive and very best. Hytner has done a brilliant job directing. The cast are ALL wonderful. It is, essentially, The James Corden show, but he is given a run for his money by all his fellow actors. It may seem unfair not to mention them all, but if I were to single any for special praise then it would have to be Tom Edden for his sensational turn as an "epileptic" waiter, Oliver Chris' delightful roguish toff and Daniel Rigby as aspiring actor/suitor. One shouldn't forget the terrific musical accompaniment either which is provided by a tribute band they call The Craze. This is the National at its very best. I believe the show goes on tour before a West End transfer and I can easily see Broadway (and I don't mean Tooting) beckoning. What a wonderful night at the theatre. - rds
30 Jun 11
Probably one of the funniest plays I have seen in years and delighted to hear that it will get a transfer into the West End and sure it will do well. James Corden is at his best with a comedy that sometimes borders into farce and always funny. I must say that I did prefer the first half to the second but never the less the whole thing very entertaining. James has a stellar cast with him--ALL do their roles to perfection but have to point here Jemima Rooper who proves she is at home with comedy as she is with drama(All My Sons and Her Naked Skin) and Oliver Chris (looking a bit like Prince William we thought). The very funniest part and scene is that of Tom Edden as Alfie--it really was hilarious and when they asked him to fetch the soup--well we were laughing before he left for the soup, imagining what might happen on his return on stage and we were not disappointed--to me it was the funniest part and role in the whole play. Can't wait to see it again if it transfers. Well done to all involved in this A++++++ production---sure it will get plenty of Whatsonstage and Olivier Awards nominations next year and deservedly so. - Joe Spiteri
22 Jun 11
James Corden is a national treasure. Yes he is, despite some misfires along the way in his television career. The man has funny bones. And he is joined by the funniest cast performing the funniest script I've seen in a long time. Richard Bean's Heretic was brilliant, but though this is less weighty, it is considerably funnier. Suzie Toase is like Carry On's Barbara Windsor, only savvier; Oliver Chris is a marvellous public schoolboy turned mafia man; and Daniel Rigby, as a cowardly self-regarding luvvie is unforgettable - they are all hilarious. - Steve
14 Jun 11
Nicholas Hynter's direction shows a master at the height of his powers. Yes, it is a pantomime with the best slapstick I have ever seen but it also has moments of truth and pathos that is the mark of a good farce. It is an ensemble cast who almost seemed to have as much fun as the audience this afternoon. I disagree though that the show would not succeed without James Corden (who is indeed a master of his craft) as it is a very well devised piece of theatre. In these gloomy times, how we need to laugh so. Definitely the funniest thing I've seen at the wonderful RNT. - Carrie
05 Jun 11
Well, all the hype and rave reviews are true, then – there hasn’t been so much laughter at the National since Jeremy Sams revival of Noises Off ten yours ago.
I can’t help making comparisons with restoration comedy The School for Scandal currently at the Barbican and French farce A Flea In Her Ear recently at the Old Vic, both of which were seriously unfunny. Perhaps director Nicholas Hytner is lucky that the original is in Italian so that he could commission an adaptation, whereas Deborah Warner and Richard Eyre respectively had to work with the original words on the page. The success owes as much to the adaptation as it does to the first class production and terrific ensemble. The very prolific Richard Bean (three crackers now in the last year alone) has been faithful to the spirit of Commedia dell’Arte whilst moving the action to 1960′s Brighton and produced something with snap, crackle and fizz whilst Sheridan’s restoration comedy has been de-laughed by the production and Feydeau’s farce was so faithfully re-produced and you felt like you were in a museum.
When you enter, there’s superbly played 60′s style pop from a four-piece band in full flow (music – Grant Olding) in front of a gaudy proscenium. The band return to keep us entertained between each scene change and before the second half and during the second half feature a series of brilliant cameo performances from cast members. The design is deliberately period production values with flats that wobble and fabric walls that shimmer. These are brilliant ideas that contribute much to the success of the evening.
Goldini’s plot revolves around a ‘minder’ who ends up with, well, two guvnors which gives us all we need for a cocktail of panto, carry on, slapstick & farce with a nostalgic feel but a contemporary freshness. Bean’s dialogue sparkles with wit and cheekiness with a lot of running jokes, the return of which seem like old friends as the evening progresses. The comic timing of the cast is simply stunning; they squeeze every ounce of laughter from these lines plus lots more that aren’t in the lines at all.
James Corden is excellent in the central role, but it’s far from just his show. There is so much other wonderful comic acting, it’s difficult to single anyone out – but I will! Oliver Chris’ creation of the toff is simply delicious, Daniel Rigby’s actorly actor is a hoot, Claire Lams turns playing dumb into an art form and Tom Edden’s 87-year old waiter is a masterclass in physical comedy. Playing (relatively) straight against these must be tough but I loved Fred Ridgeway’s deadpan Charlie, Trevor Laird’s lovable Lloyd Boateng(!) and Suzie Toase as prophetic feminist Dolly.
There are asides to the audience and even audience participation, but these don’t come over as gimmicks as much of Deborah Warner’s touches did for A School for Scandal; they seem absolutely right for the play and the adaptation. You do miss some of the lines and some of the funny business because of the amount of laughter and the amount going on, which seems like a very good reason to go and see it again! A triumph. - Gareth James
02 Jun 11
i see everything at the national and one man two guvnors is the best play and the most entertaining i have seen for many years. bravo to james corden and the rest of this brilliant cast!!!! - malcolm jacobs
01 Jun 11
I saw a wonderful production of A Servant of Two Masters some years ago and this version is not a patch on that one. This really is no more than slapstick comedy which you can see in most pantomimes although I did enjoy the waiter and the dinner sketch which was performed very well. Mr Corden should learn to project his voice like the rest of the excellent cast and the actor who plays the actor was very funny and richly deserved his Bafta this year for best actor. Unfortunately not as good as some of the National's recent and superb comedies but still a good night out. - ils
29 May 11
Firslty I am shocked that you will such language to appear from this person called John Winfield.Obviously he has not even seen the play and has a narrow bigoted view on life.He needs to get one and get out more!!.Anyway to the matter in hand.Play is exceedingly well timed farce and slaptstick .I have not laughed so much in ages.The skiffle band adds to the atmosphere.The national have shown they are not stuffy.It is a must see! - angie forest
26 May 11
I will not even attempt to 'review' this joyous event for fear of spoiling a fantastic evening. Suffice to say it is quite simply a jewel in the National's ( sometimes self-indulgent, but not here ) crown! A true, often side-splitting, piece of theatre. Love or hate James Corden as a 'celeb' - there is no denying his brilliance as a young actor, surrounded by equally brilliant actors. Go! Celebrate what good theatre is all about. - Anthony
26 May 11
I thought this was great fun, but way too long at 3 hours. James Corden was excellent and the real heart of the show. He was surrounded by a whole cast of very talented actors who work really well together. Some of the jokes/scenes were VERY laboured though and could have been quite happily shortened. I also found the skiffle band really annoying covering the scene changes. The second act dragged along badly. Would have been much better at 100mins straight through with no interval. The end of Act 1 is as good as the show got and was fantastic. I found it really hard to get back into act 2. - Steve
25 May 11
Just amazing.Funniest show ever.A superb cast,set,music,director.Beg steal or borrow a ticket - graham
25 May 11
We saw it in its last preview. I'm not a great fan of farce, but I wept with laughter with this one. It's the sort of thing that has to be well done to make it work, and it was just superb. There were various surprises throughout the action that I won't mention, and they all worked spectacularly well. I'd had a bad day, and still had a bad back that is never helped by the cheap seats at the Lyttleton (my fault for being a skinflint I know), but all that was forgotten in a production that was utterly sublime. James Corden is fabulous as an actor, and he played the audience supremely. Jemima Rooper and Oliver Chris were also divine, though it's unfair to pinpoint anyone, as the entire cast was faultless. It was an evening of complete joy, and how lovely it is seeing a cast clearly having the time of their lives. It'll be sold out soon, I bet -- go, if you possibly can! - LDE
25 May 11
Not so much an opinion of the production but of this review - it does seem a shame to me that you mention the falling down the stairs stunt - for me, this was funny because it was so unexpected - but now people will expect it!
Aside from that, I agree with everything you say. It was brilliant. - Laura
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