|David Roby in One Man, Two Guvnors (Ken Holmes)|
One Man, Two Guvnors
Sound Theatre Company
(at Armory Theatre)
Through August 27, 2016
David Roby is everything one would want in a classic prat-falling (hey, anyone know what a “prat” is?) door-slamming British farce, like One Man, Two Guvnors, playing now by Sound Theatre Company. In Richard Bean’s slick adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 1746 play, Servant of Two Masters, Roby pulls out all the stops to make us laugh as he moans about needing to eat and then hankers after love.
Bean’s adaptation hews closely to the original. A young woman (Kayla Teel) disguises herself as her dead brother, trying to find the man who killed him. She doesn’t realize that that man is her lover (Luke Stubbers). But she also needs money, so she goes to the father (John Clark) of her brother’s betrothed (Christine Riippi) to collect the dowry, not knowing that the betrothed wants to marry someone else (Daniel Stoltenberg).
Wait, what about Truffaldino, or Francis Henshall, played by Roby? As the above shenanigans evolve, the woman’s servant is sent on errands, and bumps into other people who also want stuff done for them. Hey, he thinks. I could be paid by two people at the same time! Unless, of course, he mixes up people’s mail, forgets what he’s supposed to do, has to serve food to two people in different rooms without having them meet, and has to stay out of the way of the cops. Then it gets a bit difficult for him.
Bean has taken the commedia out of Italy and placed it cleverly in 1960s Britain. This allows for stereotypes of gangsters and big hair, and keeps it in a credible past era, without it being ancient. Most of the script is fun, but some of the most successful aspects are in the musical interludes that make fun of girl groups, Beatles, and other era musical styles.
Sound Theatre’s production is fun, though a bit uneven. The beginning is way too slow, but after that rocky rhythm, mostly picks up steam and runs properly. Farce is not an easy row to do at all, and perhaps it’s better when a company has more time to rehearse and get timing down pat.
There are some good jokes and great visual silliness (a non-existent set of stairs is good fun), here. Riipi, Stoltenberg, Teel and Roby succeed the best. Also, Madison Jade Jones as Henshall’s eventual love interest provides some flirty sexiness.