|Peter Story, left, who stars as Francis Henshall, and Amy Kelly, |
who juggles multiple roles, perform in the hilarious
“One Man, Two Guvnors” on stage now at the B Street Theatre.
Rudy Meyers Photography/Courtesy photo
The first thing to notice about the expanded, 380-seat main theater is the size of the stage. Now with wings and fly space, scenic designer Samantha Reno was able to build huge walls that slide to the side, large backdrops that roll down and back up again, and pieces that fly in from the top to create an impressive, often-changing scene.
For the first show, Buck Busfield, producing artistic director/director, chose Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” the insanely funny modern adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century Italian farce, “The Servant of Two Masters.” The show was a runaway hit for James Cordon when it opened in England in 2011.
In the pre-show greeting, Busfield explained to the audience that after last season’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” the patrons complained that it made them think too much — and he promised they wouldn’t have to think at all to enjoy this comedy.
The show opens with music by a “Skiffle band” playing rockabilly songs composed by Grant Olding. The basic band is Jerry McGuire, Olivia Schaperjohn and Hunter Henrickson, with various members of the cast joining in as fillers during scene changes.
As for the cast, this is the perfect show to unite many of the old-time, familiar B Street regulars — Stephanie Altholz, Jason Kuykendall, Elisabeth Nunziato, Jahi Kearse, Kurt Johnson, Tara Sissom, Greg Alexander, John Lamb, Amy Kelly and Dave Pierini.
Leading them all is Peter Story as Francis Henshall, an out-of-work (and starving) skiffle player (musician) who finds himself employed by two different men, and must keep both from learning about the other.
Story is outstanding in a role that requires perfect comic timing, a flair for physical comedy, and a personality warm enough to make interaction with the audience a part of the show.
All of the others are at the top of their game, particularly Kuykendall, the nervous, not-overly-bright billionaire searching for his fiancée, Rachel, and Altholz, delightful as Rachel, pretending to be her murdered brother Roscoe.
Kelly plays several of the smaller roles, and also appears as part of the band. I am always impressed with the range of this actress’ talents, who, in this show, is particularly good at pratfalls. Lots of them.
As they say, hilarity ensues, including confusion with doors, food fights, dropped pants, police chases, mistaken identities and even bird poop.
The rapid-fire dialogue is crisp and comical, including the alliteration surrounding the letter “d”: “He was diagnosed with diarrhea but died of diabetes in Dagenham.”
Francis also delivers a very-funny monologue with himself about whether he is confused or not (“I don’t get confused that easily. Yes I do. I’m my own worst enemy. Stop being negative. I’m not being negative.”) that ends up with him fighting with himself. More pratfalls.
This splendidly silly modern masterpiece is two hours of non-stop laughing. I dare anyone to see it and not come out with a smile on their face.