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Review: "One Man, Two Guvnors" at Circle Theatre

The Circle Theatre Production of "One Man, Two Guvnors" is funny and fast-paced, perfect for a fun night out without the kids.
Dylan Harris and Catie Berg attempt to break the tension between them

Dylan Harris and Catie Berg attempt to break the tension between them /Christina Marie Photography

Jason DeJager tries desperately to uncork a bottle of wine

Jason DeJager tries desperately to uncork a bottle of wine /Christina Marie Photography

Cast of "One Man, Two Guvnors"

Cast of "One Man, Two Guvnors" /Christina Marie Photography

Circle Theater’s new show, “One Man, Two Guvnors,” is a raucous slapstick comedy of the Italian Commedia dell'arte comedy style. The boisterous, high-energy cast mixes elements of audience participation with improvised material to deliver a silly, fun time.

Adapted from a centuries old Italian play, the updated production is set in 1960s Brighton.

Dylan Harris very energetically portrays Francis Henshall, an easily confused and slightly hapless man who takes two jobs working as a servant to two different bosses. Hilarity ensues as Henshall tries to keep his separate guvnors away from each other while trying to keep them straight himself, and all on an empty stomach.

Harris is wonderfully entertaining as Henshall, and his chemistry with the rest of the cast is obvious through the performance. He begins the play working for Rosco Crabb (Chelsea Pummill), a supposedly dead gangster-type who is engaged to the exceedingly airheaded, yet charming Pauline Clench (Marisa Purcey), who is also engaged to amateur over-actor, Alan Dangle (Brian Alford). If you’re having trouble keeping track, you can imagine how Francis feels.

Audience members are entertained from the moment the lights go down in the auditorium to the moment lights go up, except during a 15 minute interval in the middle of the show. A skiffle band entertains while scenes are changed, and there are musical numbers between each scene that help move the story along. Cast members often participate in the songs, and Alford even beats his bare chest in time to the music.

Jason DeJager, who portrayed an elderly waiter, often had the audience in fits of giggles as he blundered about the stage. Catie Berg’s clever portrayal of sweetly sarcastic Dolly won the hearts of the audience and Henshall alike.

Torrence O'Haire's portrayal of Stanley Stubbers was wonderfully snobby and over-the-top in all the right ways. He manages to maintain his pretentious air even while standing on stage stripped to his skivvies, which is no easy task. 

Audience participation and improvisation were large elements of the show, and the only hiccup during Saturday evening’s performance was the fall of someone later revealed to have been a part of the show. Harris didn’t miss a beat, however, and the scene continued on smoothly. Before the start of the next scene, the stage manager came out to inform the audience that the person who fell was being well taken care of.

Set design was simple and scene changes were performed quickly, while the band entertained the audience. Lines were executed clearly, especially given the fact that everyone spoke in British accents.

There were some adult themes sprinkled throughout the script, so “One Man, Two Guvnors” may not be appropriate for younger audiences. Overall, the performance was immensely enjoyable. 

Tickets are available at the Circle Theatre Box Office for $25. Performances run July 18 & 19, 23-26 at 7:30 p.m., and July 20 at 5 p.m. 

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