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One Man, Two Guvnors (Haymarket)

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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After sweeping up gongs at the Evening Standard, Critics’ Circle and Whatsonstage.com Awards, Richard Bean’s 1960s Brighton-set reclamation of Goldoni's classic A Servant of Two Masters has recorded perhaps its greatest achievement – proving that it is just as funny without the presence of its original star James Corden.

While Corden and most of the rest of the original cast are now Broadway bound, the National Theatre’s production of One Man, Two Guvnors marches gloriously on in the West End, moving from the Adelphi to the Haymarket, with a new company led by Owain Arthur, Corden’s former understudy in the role of Francis Henshall, laying confident claim to the piece in its new home.

Arthur plays it much differently – for one, he’s far slimmer than Corden (which takes some wind out of the fat joke sails) and he speaks in his native Welsh accent. But he more than matches Corden in his adept handling of both the physical and apparent ad-libbing demands of the role, and charms the audience with his red-faced zeal and winking asides.

Elsewhere, I’d Do Anything winner Jodie Prenger makes an impressive play debut as Dolly, the lustful object of Francis’ affections. She’s a saucy seaside postcard personified, all wiggle and innuendo, and sporting a towering beehive.

And there are great performances too from Ben Mansfield and Gemma Whelan as Francis’ two star-crossed lover guvnors, Daniel Ings and Nigel Betts as the actorly Alan and his legal-eagle dad and Martin Barrass as the octogenarian, accident-prone Alfie.

Prenger and former S Club star Hannah Spearritt exercise their well-trained vocal muscles to nice effect in one of the musical scene transitions, orchestrated by Grant Olding and the other brilliant band members of The Craze.

If you didn’t manage to see One Man, Two Guvnors first time round, don’t feel short-changed in the least seeing it with this replacement cast. And if you did manage to see it previously, do consider coming again – it can only enhance your experience knowing what’s come before.

Come on our hosted Whatsonstage.com Outing on 11 April 2012 and get a top price ticket, a FREE drink and an EXCLUSIVE post show Q&A all for the INCREDIBLE price of just £35*!! (Normally up to £55 for the ticket alone) - click here to book.


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