Italian farce gets jazzed up as One Man Two Guvnors comes to Hornchurch’s Queen’s Theatre
PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 September 2019
Set in 1960s Brighton, Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors became popular with British audiences after James Corden’s Tony Award-winning performance of the main character in 2011.
Based on Carlo Goldoni's 1746 comedy The Servant of Two Masters, the fast-paced farce is now to be performed at the Queen's Theatre Hornchurch.
"If you're looking for a good night out with live music and comedy, come and see 'One Man, Two Guvnors' - it's a breath of fresh air," promises David O'Reilly, hoping to do the character of Francis Henshall justice as he stars in the play.
The show has already received five-star reviews from The Stage and What's On Stage, and O'Reilly is rightly pleased with the reception from audiences so far, which has been overwhelmingly positive.
What's On Stage says about his performance: "David O'Reilly is outstanding in the central role, setting the tone for the production with outrageous voices, off-beat asides, perfectly-timed physical comedy and knowing complicity with the audience."
Although he admits to not having read Goldoni's original book, the cast had to attend a workshop day, which O'Reilly found very helpful.
They were talked to about the origins of this specific type of Italian comedy, and the importance of physicality in this play.
Albeit starring in a performance largely based on physical comedy, O'Reilly admits he doesn't have a particular favourite genre, stating: "I'm just happy to work."
He sees difficulties as well as positives in all forms of theatre, and prepared for the role as he does for any other roles.
So what is the play about?
After being fired from his skiffle band, Francis Henshall is skint and hungry.
He manages to secure a new job as a minder for small time gangster Roscoe Crabbe.
What Francis doesn't know, is his new guvnor is really Roscoe's sister Rachel in disguise, as her own dead brother, who has been killed by her boyfriend Stanley Stubbers.
To further complicate things, Francis nabs a second job working for that very Stanley Stubbers who is hiding from the police.
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All Francis has to do is ensure his two guvnors don't meet.
What could go wrong?
Although David O'Reilly was one step ahead, being familiar with the term skiffle, many audience members may not be so in the know.
Skiffle is a music genre with jazz, blues and American folk influence, from which other forms of music such as British blues and British rock music arose.
Prior knowledge or not, the audience has the opportunity to enjoy the pre-show and interval concerts of a live skiffle band - The Rozzers, comprising of Oraine Johnson (The Jungle Book for Derby Theatre), Dominic Gee Burch (UK and International Tour of Footloose) and Jay Osborne (Cilla the Musical), among others.
This music is integral to the atmosphere created, and O'Reilly believes that the "live music adds a fresh element" to the production.
Describing his character as a "loveable idiot", O'Reilly is keen to avoid simplifying the role of Francis.
Created as a comedic character, Francis' schemes, naïveté and constant hunger are sure to have audience in stitches.
However, although hilarious, he remains a rather complex character.
Anyone who has ever wanted something very desperately, and has felt vulnerable, could relate to Francis Henshall, and those that are not able to relate would be unable to resist loving the character.
During the extremely intensive five-week rehearsal period, the cast was able to find time to socialise together.
Cast members, described by O'Reilly as an "incredibly talented bunch of actors and actresses", include director Craig Armstrong (Fat Friends the Musical) and actor David Cardy (BBC's Birds of a Feather).
Although he had never worked with any of them before, he believes that bonds were quickly made, and that these would continue to form and strengthen in the duration of the production of the play.
One Man, Two Guvnors runs from October 2 to 19 at the Queen's Theatre in Billet Lane.
Visit queens-theatre.co.uk or call 01708 443 333.
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