The dizzying highs of One Man, Two Guvnors

Trying to explain intricacies of the plot detracts from what should be the real focus of the show – the cast. James Corden (Gavin & Stacey and Craig Ferguson’s “Late Late Night” replacement) originated the role of Francis Henshall in the West End production of One Man,Two Guvnors, so it’s safe to say Andrew McNee had some big shoes to fill. McNee, who could easily pass as Chris O’Dowd’s (The IT Crowd, Bridesmaids) brother, seemed effortless in his portrayal of Francis. His easy demeanour, perfect comedic timing and excellent physical comedy skills easily charmed the opening night’s crowd.

The show’s other stand-out was Ryan Beil (Allan). From the moment we meet Allan at his engagement party, it is clear he is beyond self-absorbed and entitled. While those traits are not exactly desirable, they make for one of the most ridiculous characters I have had the fortune to meet. Allan wants to be an actor and treats every moment as though he is performing on a stage. Gazing out to an imaginary audience, speaking dramatically at all times (even when he is saying something unimportant or mundane) and appearing to always be waiting for applause or adoration is Allan’s normal behaviour. While the character is supposed to be over the top and ridiculous, Beil manages to make him more likeable than I think was intended by the playwright.

One Man, Two Guvnors also required audience participation and this is where the audience had the most fun. The interactions with the audience were often tongue-in-cheek, or rather pointed, but there were also moments when McNee appeared to break character and talk to members of the crowd as himself, not as his character Francis. The show’s audience participation highlight came when Francis brought a girl up on stage who was more than a bit shy. Francis moved the girl to-and-fro and even had her crawl and hide under a table only to quickly drag her back out, throw water in her face and douse her with a fire extinguisher when he accidentally started said table on fire.