BRINGING One Man, Two Guvnors, a hit West End and Broadway show to Bromsgrove’s Artrix could be All and Sundry’s most ambitious task yet and the talented cast and directors Mike and Kim Jeffrey rose to that challenge.
The production builds slowly with the majority of the comedy in the early stages coming from delicious one-liners while the scene is set.
That keeps the laughter ticking over nicely and then the number of visual gags, slapstick scenarios and ludicrous situations increases, providing some real moments of hilarity.
There are also an elements of bawdiness and innuendo which is always an audience favourite.
Timing is critical in this play which clearly has its roots in farce and those performing got that spot on – literally when one door closes the other one opens.
Character-wise Dave Healing was great as gangster Charlie Clench and Ruth Messenger was delightful as ‘women’s lib’ Dolly, enjoying some great interaction with the audience.
Ed Butler was excellent as posh toff Stanley Stubbers, both personifying and, consequently, ridiculing the British ‘stiff upper lip’ throughout and Max Ponsonby was a firm favourite with the crowd as ageing waiter Alfie. At least 75 per cent of the superb slapstick must have come from him.
George Andress also enjoyed plenty of laughs as dramatic ‘actor’ Alan Dingle.
But the star of the night was John Aubrey as Francis and, as the role was played by James Corden in the West End, he was in good company in carrying it off. His perfect performance enabled the crowd to go with him on his journey, trying to juggle two jobs without his two masters knowing. You both empathised with him and willed him to win every step of the way. He also had people cringing in their seats when he ventured among the audience.
The show is set in the swinging 60s and the band, Sam King, Jonny Jones and Thom Udall, also delighted the crowd. As well as providing some ‘1963’ ambience with numerous numbers, their music also provided a sideshow of entertainment while some complicated set changes take place.
In truth, One Man, Two Guvnors should lead to lots of ticket sales as this show is well worth a watch.
And, with three happy endings, this really is feelgood theatre that you will be talking about for a long time afterwards.
The remaining performances take place at 7.30pm tonight (Thursday), tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday, June 17.
And there is also a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.
For more information and tickets, visit www.artrix.co.uk or call 01527 577330.