BWW Review: You May Die at ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS at Omaha Community Playhouse
Come to Omaha Community Playhouse's ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS prepared to die. Because you may die laughing at this all out wacky play by British playwright Richard Bean.
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS is Bean's adaptation of a 1743 Italian comedy called Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni. Bean reset the piece in 1963 Brighton. After touring the UK, it opened on Broadway in 2012 with James Corden (Carpool Karaoke) in the role of Francis Henshall, for which he won a Tony Award. The play won a handful of Drama Desk Awards, including Outstanding Music in a Play by Grant Olding, and Outer Critics Circle Awards after running for a short five months.
Director Anthony Clark-Kaczmarek directs what Omaha Community Playhouse has been touting as an "All Star Cast." Indeed they should. Every member of the cast is not only tried and tested, they once again deliver superb performances. Steve Krambeck as the out of work "skiffle" player takes on employment under two men: Roscoe Crabbe (Cathy Hirsch) and Stanley Stubbers (Chris Shonka). As he sometimes unsuccessfully juggles responsibilities, letters, and trunks for his two "guvnors," while trying to keep them unaware of his double employment, he stays in hot pursuit of food. It isn't until the second act that his appetite is sated and he arrives at a new motivation: the love of the voluptuous Dolly (Victoria Stark).
Complicating the story line as any farce does, mobster Charlie (Cork Ramer) has promised his daughter Pauline (Roz Parr) to gangster Roscoe Crabbe. But Pauline ("unsoiled by education") is in love with an over-the-top actor, Alan Dangle (Jon Shaw), son of attorney Harry Dangle (Erik Quam). When Roscoe is killed, Pauline's engagement party replaces him with Alan. When the apparently not-dead Roscoe shows up, the story rolls into one big convoluted hysterical comedy of errors.
Between acts, "The Craze" led by Adam Sherrerd plays its version of skiffle music, occasionally joined by Krambeck who insists he gave the Beatles their start. Shonka takes a swipe at honking horns and Olivia Howard adds a ukulele. The band adds not only music, but a creative means of transitioning sets. As the band rolls in, the curtain (a British flag) closes and Matthew D. Hamel's set changes from a delightful cartoonish city sketch against a series of doors in corals and aqua to a lavish pub (with food!) to a seaside scape where tragedy nearly occurs.
Lindsey Pape's costumes range from garish plaid suits stopping short at the ankles and paired with argyles to a bright yellow petal skirt over green, looking much like a daffodil. She mixes fun with conservative apparel.
Bill Hutson as Alfie, the 87 year old waiter who thinks he's 86, is knock 'em dead funny! His shuffling steps, pulled faces, elderly missteps are eerily accurate and adorable. Just turn up his pacemaker and watch him scamper!
I can't think of a better person to play the zany Francis/Paddy than Steve Krambeck! Always a funny guy, he is at his best in this production. Whether stumbling over a heavy trunk, picking up his feet in a caricature of Irish style, or sneaking food and drinks from the table, he is a hoot. When he fights his own worst enemy--himself--it's howlingly funny.
Chris Shonka and Jon Shaw are less about physical humor and more about great lines such as, "I will return like a storm and everyone will get wet!" and "My honor has been fiddled with." Shonka suggests that Shaw stand at an angle and pretend there's an audience out there. Brennan Thomas as Lloyd Boateng refers everything back to his days in prison.
The audience gets drawn into this one. And whether you believe they are randomly drawn or a part of the show, that's up to you. Either way, it is fun.
Enjoyed the show! Loved the entire cast. You can't go wrong seeing this one.
And note for Steve Krambeck...perhaps you ought to start your own Carpool Karaoke following the footsteps of James Corden?
Photo Credit: Robertson Photography