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ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS Festival Theatre/Shaw Festival
By
Jul 2, 2024, 19:29
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Shaw Festival
Through October 13
ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS Festival Theatre/Shaw Festival

What makes for a good business season for theater companies like the Shaw Festival and the Stratford Festival are tent pole shows which drag in large crowds.
And, in turn, those customers buy tickets to other shows that afternoon or that evening.
Certainly, a very strong “My Fair Lady” will draw customers to other Shaw shows.
Now, there’s another major hit in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” with music from Grant Olding.
This is not the same version of Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” which has been a hit for the Irish Classical Theatre Company, twice.
The show requires a star turn to work and Shaw has Peter Fernandes as Francis Henshall, the greedy, chaotic, crazed valet.
The basic story involves a valet who wants to pick up a few bucks by taking on a second employer.
Who thinks this will turn bad?
Besides Fernandes, the cast is filled with Shaw regulars, pumping up the production, Matt Alfano’s acrobatic Alfie, Martin Happer’s fashion plate Stanley Stubbers, Tom Rooney’s ex-con Charlie Clench and all of the members of the skiffle band and the female trio which occasionally interrupt the stage action to probe the music scene in the English tourist capitol of Brighton in 1963.
There’s also Julie Fox’ flexible and wonderful set, which opens to the under-stage area, allowing access from below and for people on stage to fall into this deep hole, when the floor is opened in a hidden way.
I would like to see the safety precautions under the stage.
There are more twists and turns, the gangster with a twin who is dead, the murder which may or may not have occurred and misplaced letters involving everyone.
Fernandes’ Henshall gallops through all of this, sometimes just trying to get a meal while serving his two masters.
A highlight of this is Fernandes attempting to shuttle food and wine around to both those masters while trying to eat himself, as waitstaff charges up the stairs from the kitchen while Alfie keeps falling down the stairs into the kitchen and food flies.
The best moments of the production are the skiffle band breaking up the incoherent structure of the scenes involving Fernandes.
This is another one of those shows invoking the rule: Sit back and keep watching.
It’s worth the time for “One Man, Two Guvnors.”

A.W.

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