“One Man, Two Guvnors”
Reviewer: Myle Yan Tay
Performance: 25 May 2017
Francis (played by Paul McCracken) asks the audience if they know that the play is based on a commedia dell’arte work from the 18th century. Greeted by silence, he smiles, thankful that there aren’t any “dicks in the audience”. This irreverent and fast-paced spirit keeps the production vibrant and alive.
But when the production loses this energy and drags, it falters.
For commedia dell’arte to work, there needs to be a very sharp sense of timing. In this production, the dynamic shifts between complete doubt, full bravado, asides to the audience, and emotional outbursts vary in quality. Alexander Clark, playing the bigoted and proud Stanley Stubbers, provides us with charm and bluntness. Neal Thapar is engaging as the quintessential thespian, ready to cry at the drop of a hat.
But there is room for more fine-tuning. Certain gags were clearly honed while others lack that same punch.
Paul McCracken sometimes falters as the dim-witted and accidentally duplicitous Francis. That said, he is onstage for almost the full two and a half hours, and when he is working the crowd or moving frenetically through a scene, he is exceptionally entertaining. One of the funniest sections of the play takes place when McCracken invites an audience member onstage, gives her an instruction, and then leaves. When given room to improvise, McCracken soars, adding the punch and keeping up the pace of a production that at times needs that guidance.
The physical comedy of the show gives an exciting spectacle of bodies thrown around the stage, but certain elements of the fight choreography can be refined: certain moments looking stiff and rehearsed.
The Stage Club is an amateur theatre group whose membership is “drawn both from the ever-changing expatriate population and from Singaporeans”. As such, non-spoken roles in this production are cameos for members of the club. While this engages the community, these appearances stick out like odd thumbs.
One actor puts on a Jamaican accent, that is at times incoherent, and on the whole, alienating and bizarre. It is never clear if it is meant to be comedic, because the audience only laughs at Rahul Ghai’s comical physicality rather than the accent.
The musical interludes provide a nice break between scenes but many outstay their welcome. On the whole the performance is too long, and it puts a drag on the pace.
One Man, Two Guvnors takes some time for the actors to get started but by the time they do in the second act, every gag is a hit. However, this production needs to sharpen the actors’ timing and overall pacing.
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ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
ONE MAN TWO GUVNORS by The Stage Club
24 – 27 May 2017
KC Arts Centre
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Yan is currently studying in Yale-NUS College, where he enjoys spending his free time in far too many productions. Having tried acting, writing, and directing for the stage, Yan looks forward to reviewing. He believes that theatre should challenge both the audience and creators.