National Theatre at Home, Global

03/04/2020 - 09/04/2020

Aotea Centre at THE EDGE®, Auckland

14/03/2013 - 23/03/2013

Auckland Arts Festival 2013

COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020

Production Details

Auckland Arts Festival is thrilled that the National Theatre of Great Britain’s multi award-winning West End and Broadway sensation One Man, Two Guvnors is coming to the Auckland Arts Festival 2013. The multiple five-star comedy runs 14 -23 March 2013 at Auckland’s Aotea Centre.

Fired from his skiffle band, broke and hungry, the hapless Francis Henshall (“one man”) offers his services as a minder to both Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers (“two guvnors”). But Francis’s guvs are mixed up in so many schemes, extortions and clandestine dealings that our man is left in the middle of a very definite muddle. Solution? Do everything in his power to keep his two guvnors from meeting. Simple? Not really.

Richard Bean’s smash-hit comedy of errors is a glorious homage to British comedy and vaudeville that happily hijacks the plot of Carlo Goldoni’s classic 18th century Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters.

Under the impeccable direction of the National Theatre’s Director, Nicholas Hytner, One Man, Two Guvnors is a laugh-until-you-cry celebration of farce, slapstick, physical gags, sing-alongs and Python-esque absurdity,

accompanied by an energetic original score from on-stage band, The Craze.

The show features 15 original songs created by The Craze, who are a British skiffle and beat band. Skiffle is a style of music that originated in the US and has its roots in jazz, blues, folk and roots. The music itself generally uses just three chords, is huge in energy and can often include some homemade or unusual instruments. In the case of One Man, Two Guvnors, this is the band’s famous “hornchestra”, made from over 20 old car horns. 

The show comes to Auckland Arts Festival 2013 after hugely acclaimed West End and Broadway seasons and widespread recognition, including Best Play in the 2011 Evening Standard Theatre Awards (UK), four Outer Critics Circle Awards (USA) and seven Tony nominations (USA).

The all-British cast is led by Owain Arthur, whose performance has received multiple five-star reviews in the current West End run.

On choosing One Man, Two Guvnors as one of the major international headliners, Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director, Carla van Zon says, “The Auckland Arts Festival offers locals and visitors to Auckland a chance to experience the arts in a way they may not otherwise. A show of such wide international acclaim and superb quality as the National Theatre of Great Britain’s One Man, Two Guvnors doesn’t come to town very often. This sensational production is one that avid theatre lovers, comedy fanatics and followers of the best of everything British shouldn’t miss. It’s a high energy night at the theatre, full of laughter.” 

Director of the National Theatre of Great Britain for 10 years, Nicholas Hytner’s previous productions include The History Boys, Henry V, Stuff Happens, Phèdre, The Habit of Art, The Wind and the Willows, a two-part adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, Carousel, The Cripple of Inishmaan and The Madness of George the Third. His film work includes The Crucible, The Madness of King George, The Object of My Affection and Center Stage.

A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Owain Arthur also performed in Nicholas Hytner’s National Theatre production of The History Boys. Other theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet for the Royal Shakespeare Company, The Comedy of Errors for the Royal Exchange Theatre and Birdsong at the Comedy Theatre. His screen credits include TV shows Holby City, Ddeg, Cei Bach, New Tricks and The Palace, and films include Abroad, Mr Nice and Eldra.

***** A triumph of visual and verbal comedy. – The Guardian

An evening of riotous delight… I found myself physically incapable with laughter. – Daily Telegraph

The longest sustained laugh I’ve heard in years of theatre-going. – The New Yorker

Officially the funniest play on the planet – Daily Mail

The funniest thing I’ve seen on stage since Edna Everage stormed the St James in 1993… It’s the kind of show in which characters’ exits and entrances get their own rounds of applause. – Peter Calder, NZ Herald (review of National Theatre Live screening of the play)

One Man, Two Guvnors 

Aotea Centre, Auckland 
Thursday 14 March – Sunday 17 March, 7.30pm
Tuesday 19 March – Saturday 23 March, 7.30pm
Matinees Saturday 16 March, Thursday 21 March & Saturday 23 March, 1.30pm
Duration 2hr 30min incl interval
Price Premium $118 / Friend/Conc/Group $108
A Res $98 / Friend/Conc/Group $89
B Res $75 / Friend/Conc/Group $69
C Res: $45
Bookings Book at THE EDGE: / 09 357 3355 / 0800 289 842
Group bookings: / 09 357 3354

National Theatre at Home 2020 / Covid 19 Lockdown Festival 2020  
NZ Dates: available from Friday 3 April, 7am – until Thursday 9 April

One Man, Two Guvnors opened at the National Theatre in 2011, toured in the UK and then opened in the West End in November 2011, with a subsequent Broadway opening in April 2012. The second tour was launched six months later, playing the UK, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. The second UK production in London closed in March 2014, before a third tour of the UK began in May 2014. 

This National Theatre Live production was recorded in the Lyttelton Theatre
Original season: 24 May – 19 September 2011
(Previews from 17 May 2011) 

Written by: Richard Bean
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Physical Comedy Director: Cal McCrystal
Revival Director: Adam Penford
Designer: Mark Thompson
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Music and Songs: Grant Olding
Sound Designer: Paul Arditti
Fight Director: Kate Waters

Cast includes: Owain Arthur, Edward Bennett, Amy Booth-Steel, Sabrina Carter, Peter Caulfield, Nick Cavaliere, Alicia Davies, Mark Jackson, Colin Mace, Mark Monero, Alan Pearson, Kellie Shirley, Seun Shote Russell Wilcox, Leon Williams, Matthew Woodyatt, Rosie Wyatt

Sponsored by Westpac
With support from Coast and THE EDGE 

Performers & Roles  
Suzie Toase:  Dolly 
Trevor Laird:  Lloyd Boateng 
Fred Ridgeway:  Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench 
Claire Lams:  Pauline Clench  
Martyn Ellis:  Harry Dangle 
Daniel Rigby:  Alan Dangle 
James Corden:  Francis Henshall 
Jemima Rooper:  Rachel Crabbe 
Oliver Chris:  Stanley Stubbers 
David Benson:  Gareth  
Tom Edden:  Alfie 
Polly Conway:  Ensemble / Understudy: Rachel 
Derek Elroy:  Ensemble / Understudy: Lloyd / Understudy: Gareth 
Paul Lancaster:  Ensemble / Understudy: Alan / Understudy: Alfie 
Fergus March:  Ensemble / Understudy: Stanley Stubbers 
Gareth Mason:  Ensemble 
Clare Thomson:  Ensemble / Understudy: Pauline / Understudy: Dolly 
Leighton Pugh:  Understudy: Harry 
Grant Olding:  Guitar 
Philip James:  Guitar 
Benjamin Brooker:  Drums 
Jolyon Dixon:  Ensemble / Understudy: Francis

Creative Roles 
Sir Nicholas Hytner:  Director 
Cal McCrystal:  Associate Director 
Mark Thompson:  Designer 
Grant Olding:  Music 
Kate Waters:  Fight Director 
Adam Penford:  Choreographer / Staff Director 
Kate Godfrey:  Company Voice Work 
Mark Davies:  Production Manager 
Andrew Speed:  Stage Manager 
Nik Haffenden:  Deputy Stage Manager 
Sara Gunter:  Assistant Stage Manager 
Charlotte Heath:  Assistant Stage Manager 
Poppy Hall:  Costume Supervisor 
Chris Lake:  Prop Supervisor 
Gareth Connoley:  Assistant to the Lighting Designer 
Jasmine Sandalli:  Deputy Production Manager 
Tim Blazdell:  Digital Artist 
Ben Davies:  Assistant to the Designer 
James / Jim Gaffney:  Assistant to the Designer 
Jason Southgate:  Assistant to the Designer 
Francesca Manfrin:  Literal Translator 
Johan Persson:  Production Photographer 
Alastair Coomer:  Casting 
Padraig Cusack:  Tour Producer 
Ben Austin:  Project Draughtsman 
Paul Arditti:  Sound Designer 
Mark Henderson:  Lighting Designer 

Theatre ,

2hrs 30mins, incl. interval

Cleverly written, impeccably paced and performed, seamlessly captured on camera

Review by John Smythe 03rd Apr 2020

Who knew what fun it would be to settle down at 7am to watch National Theatre At Home from the sofa in your pyjamas with a cuppa, then have your breakfast at interval? Not that it’s necessary for Kiwis to do this – each play stays on their YouTube site for a week, until the next one comes along. The shows they are offering were previously available as ticketed National Theatre Live screenings in selected cinemas around the world. Now, in this era of Covid 19 Lockdown, it’s free – although there is plenty of opportunity to donate (this first screening raised NZ$51,880).

Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors is based on Carlo Goldini’s 1743 commedia dell’arte classic, The Servant of Two Masters, set in Venice. Directed by Sir Nicholas Hytner and premiered in the National’s Lyttleton Theatre, it was recorded during the original 2011 season, before the hugely popular production transferred to the West End then toured widely.

Bean has relocated it from 18th century Venice to Brighton in 1963, when Britain – and most of the rest of the world – was on the brink of sexual revolution, adding a socio-political frisson for a 21st century audience. While the heritage of key characters can be traced back to stock commedia characters (played with half-masks back in the day), Bean’s version also features a wealth of British archetypes.

Career criminal Charlie ‘the Duck’ Clench owes something to Pantalone. His buxom but bourgeoning feminist secretary, Dolly is a latter-day Columbina. The young lover characters (innamorati) are Charlie’s daughter Pauline, who links back to Isabella, and her pining lover and wannabe actor Alan Dangle, echoes the melancholic Pierrot (although some sources suggest he derived from Flavia).

The commedia ancestor of Alan’s criminal lawyer father, Harry Dangle, a Latin scholar, could be Il Dottore. The shrewd chef Lloyd Boateng was Brighella in the original. Charlie’s rival gangster, Roscoe Crabbe, to whom he owes money, may owe something to Il Capatino, although the person people take to be Roscoe is his twin sister Rachel, dressed as a man. Her innamorati, despite being Roscoe’s murderer, is Stanley Stubbers, characterised by Bean as an upper class twit forever warped by a boarding school education. It wouldn’t be British comedy without class distinction.

Every commedia play needs a Zanni and here he is reincarnated in the frail and doddery waiter, Alfie. But of course the whole plot spins around the comic servant character, Arlecchino (aka Harlequin), called Truffaldino Battochio by Goldini and renamed Francis Henshall by Bean. 

It will emerge that Francis used to play in a skiffle band and a splendid four-piece combo in brown suits, white shirts and skinny ties, plays songs composed by Grant Olding, as a curtain raiser, in scene breaks and during interval, that capture the times to a tee. On occasion members of the cast will join them, variously on marimba, ukulele, klaxon horns; with body-slaps and as a retro (even for those times) singing trio of women.

The curtain rises on a drawing room set. A clever device for the efficient delivery of necessary exposition has Charlie Clench (a gruff Fred Ridgeway) – whose wife left him when their daughter was small – giving a speech to mark the engagement of Pauline (a comically vacant Claire Lams) to Alan Dangle (a wonderfully earnest Daniel Rigby). Also present are Charlie’s secretary commanding yet sensuous Dolly (relished by Suzie Toase), chef Lloyd Boateng, who learnt his trade over three years in Parkhurst prison, where he met Charlie (Trevor Laird makes this factotum intriguing) and Alan’s father, Harry Dangle (an appropriately pompous yet impressively loquacious Martyn Ellis).

It turns out Pauline was to have entered a marriage of convenience-to-her-father with the sadistic Roscoe but now he is unexpectedly dead, she is becoming engaged to her true love, Alan, so that the sausage rolls Charlie has paid for don’t go to waste. It’s in this scene that a running gag is launched about whether Roscoe and his twin sister Rachel are/were identical. 

No-one is expecting a geezer from London who says he is Roscoe’s minder to turn up. The casually familiar yet innocent-abroad manner James Corden brings to Francis Henshall is rather unnerving, although Dolly does rather like the pleasure he expresses in discovering this is not her engagement party. But at this point his main obsession of food (Arlecchino is always hungry) and his grabbing a fistful of nuts, tossing one into the air and catching it in his mouth – earning cheers from the live audience – signifies this performer’s lazzi: a commedia convention whereby a he displays a special skill. Indeed, given Francis is describes by Dolly as “a bit overweight”, Corden will go on to exhibit an astonishing physicality.

The playwright takes the opportunity to correct a popular misuse of language by having Harry declare, “This man is a clown!” so that Francis can riposte, “Everyone at the circus loves a clown so what you are really saying is ‘I love you’.” Excellent.

When it transpires that Francis has an invitation to Roscoe’s engagement party and is informed Roscoe’s dead, he wants to know who is sitting in the car outside. The plot thickens as Roscoe Crabbe – his sister Rachel in disguise, played with appropriate tough-guy tropes by Jemima Rooper – arrives to demand the £6,000 Charlie owes him.

Alone with Lloyd, who has already extolled Rachel’s virtues and marvelled at how opposite she is from her twin brother – she reveals her true identity, and tells him because her boyfriend killed Roscoe, they will have to migrate to Australia. This kicks off a running gag about Australia that will surprisingly subvert most expectations.

The National Theatre’s impressive scenic resources take us smartly from the drawing room to outside The Cricketer’s Arms, in a street with well utilised depth (Designer: Mark Thompson). Francis’s lazzi goes liquid here, provoking ‘yuks’ from the audience, as he chats to us about his remarkable life to date. When Stanley Stubbers, the upper-class twit forever tainted by boarding school, played with great elan by Oliver Chris, has his trunk left in the street by a surprisingly knowledgeable Cabbie, he engages Francis to get it up to his hotel room. Thus Francis scores his second Guvnor. And Francis in turn secures the services of two audience volunteers to help with the trunk, causing much hilarity all round.

Roscoe/Rachel also checks into the Cricketer’s Arms with an identical trunk. After s/he and Francis banter about how men strategise for getting a ‘leg-over’ she gives him letter to deliver and he launches into an increasingly physical argument with himself that (for NZ theatre-goers) recalls Michael Hurst in Frequently Asked Questions: To Be or Not to Be (aka Bard Day’s Night).

As mixed up trunks, letters and diaries cause merry mayhem, deliciously witty and sometimes groan-worthy – even distasteful at times – dialogue flows with orchestral ease, entertainingly enriching our understanding of the characters amid astute social commentary.

All Francis’s actions are dedicated to getting himself a decent feed – and the best opportunity arises when both Guvnors ask for dinner to be served in their rooms, with Francis as their only waiter. Along with Lloyd the chef, the pub-that-serves-food does have two waiters: David Benson’s experienced and patient Gareth and 87 year-old war veteran Alfie (the Zanni): an astounding series of turns by Tom Edden, ever teetering but not quite collapsing – except when he does. But it is Francis – assisted by another volunteer from the audience – who puts in the hard yards to meet the desires of his Guvnors while attending, most importantly, to his own needs.

It all builds to a flaming and shockingly foaming climax to bring the first half – or two thirds, more like – to a riotous conclusion.

While Bean has earnest actor Alan satirising elements of acting – e.g. soliloquising on destiny and bus timetables; getting all Hamletty with Pauline – his script becomes explicitly meta-theatrical when, early in the second half (final third), Francis settles down outside The Cricketer’s Arms for a fag and a fart and explains to us that, having eaten all he wants now, he – as a Harlequin character – must find a new motivation to drive his base actions.

His quest for sincere and abiding love is focused of Dolly, of course, although when she asks whether he prefers eating or making love, he has to think about it. The increasing complications of his dual life necessitate his invention of an Irish lookalike, Paddy. Roscoe/Rachel still hasn’t got the money. Misunderstandings threaten to bring tragic ends to both innamorati couples, enriching the comedy with heartfelt poignancy and pathos.

Inevitably truths emerge, plotlines converge and themes merge to generate the happy endings the genre demands. And no-one will leave this show without knowing the difference between monozygotic and dizygotic twins. 

With One Man, Two Guvnors Richard Bean, Sir Nicholas Hytner and the whole creative company have crafted a cleverly written, impeccably paced and performed play, seamlessly captured on camera for the whole world to enjoy.

The British National Theatre’s astute generosity in gifting some recorded shows to a locked-down world, while garnering donations to keep the afloat and the company members on the payroll, is to be applauded. From the next three Fridays (NZ time), National Theatre at Home will screen week-long seasons of Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre, Bryony Lavery’s Treasure Island adaptation and Shakepeare’s Twelfth Night. They are also making their entire collection freely available to state-funded teachers and pupils at home.


John Smythe April 8th, 2020

Key members of the ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS team remenisce 

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Centrepiece mixes wit with superb comic acting

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 16th Mar 2013

The Auckland Arts Festival’s centrepiece One Man, Two Guvnors demonstrates what happens when the sophisticated elegance of commedia dell’arte collides with the eccentric weirdness of classic British comedy. The modernisation of an 18th century commedia classic plunges us into the seedier side of swinging Brighton with farcical action, witty wordplay and superb comic acting kicked along with the manic energy of a skiffle band. 

The show’s many virtues are all jammed into a set-piece that has a malnourished Harlequin filching food from a banquet served to two masters who must be kept apart in adjoining dinning rooms. 

The theme of hunger amid plenty would have resonated with an 18th century audience in ways we can barely imagine but Richard Bean’s script cleverly uses the set-up for an extended riff on the contemporary fear of public humiliation. [More]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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One show, twice the laughs

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 15th Mar 2013

Early 1960s Brighton, England is the setting for this hilarious comedy that’s a kind of update of Goldoni’s Commedia dell’Arte hit, A Servant of Two Masters (1743). Richard Bean has cleverly set One Man, Two Guvnors in a time and place that disavows political correctness in an effort to loosen up the humour in 2013. And it’s a smart move. Groovy, even!

The laughs come thick and fast when down-on-his-luck Francis Henshall (superbly played by the wonderful Owain Arthur) finds himself with two jobs. Brilliant! Two jobs could bring twice the benefits. All he wants is to eat and shag, so maybe this time Francis is onto a winner. But what’s a bloke to do when things get a tad complex? One man serving two guvnors (each with their own secrets and desires) sets up the perfect storm for mistaken identities, objectives in conflict, love lost and found, and a whole lot of quick and disastrous thinking on your feet.

The narrative is thin at times but that’s beside the point in physical comedy with farce at the centre. This is British Humour on steroids; think Blackadder, Monty Python, and a bit of Fawlty Towers for the occasional boob or deaf waiter joke to thwart impending disaster. “Awright, Guv?”

It’s really very funny and the direct connection to Restoration comedy is hard to ignore as stock characters (given truthful representation) energetically push things along. Arthur and his cast mates – with the excellent direction of Nicholas Hytner – bring intelligent, quirky, physical comedy to the plate.

Owain Arthur is brilliant as our ‘One Man’, Francis. Goldoni originally wrote A Servant of Two Masters at the request of actor Antonio Sacco, one of the great (Commedia) Truffaldinos in history. His earliest drafts had large sections that were reserved for improvisation, but he revised it in 1753 in the version that exists today. This improvisational element is key to the Richard Bean’s show since it also relies on the central actor’s fantastic acting skills to invent comedy relevant to the plot or setting.

Arthur takes the opportunities for improv and runs with them so audience participation is there, as well as a few tricks that will take you by surprise. It’s too much of a spoiler to divulge the details here but a hummus sandwich has never evoked so much laughter. I was in stitches. This comic ‘riffing’ will only get better throughout the season. Owain Arthur is a comic virtuoso and it’s worth seeing for this alone.  

There are plenty of asides to the audience – a convention that works well in the newly-refurbished ASB theatre. And of course the meta-theatre of this play (where the character is aware of their own theatricality and place in the drama) directly connects the actor to both the audience and a long tradition of Commedia-inspired work. It’s twice the laughs for allowing these performance pacts to thrive in the play. “Sorted, mate!” 

Arthur is wonderfully supported by a cast of sixteen. Every character type is there including Edward Bennett’s public schoolboy/man, Stanley Stubbers, who has some pearler lines: “Woof!” “First names are for girls and Norwegians”.

Amy Booth-Steel’s buxom Dolly brings welcome bass notes to the witty /ditsy female characters, and Mark Jackson’s Alfie is a study in how to play ninety years old and authentically get the laughs.

The Craze, a skiffle band, play preshow and between acts. Kitted out with a washboard (complete with bell on top), double bass, guitar and acoustic guitar they belt out the wonderful compositions by Grant Olding. Songs between acts keep the energy humming along and these guys are the perfect counterpoint to the slapstick that peppers the show.

This is an expertly produced show that reminds us we’re all buffoons at heart. Comedy unites, and physical comedy is the universal jesting handshake. Irrespective of language or culture, physical gags are timeless, culturally transcendant, even. This is the great gift of Hytner’s production that’s firmly rooted in early its 1960s British setting. Perhaps that’s why the National Theatre’s production has been received so well; specific comedy is universal. Goldoni would be pleased. Go on, it’s a right laff.  


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Review by Simon Wilson 15th Mar 2013

There are sequences of enormous hilarity in the National Theatre’s international smash-hit One Man, Two Guvnors, and a great number of incidental moments scattered between those sequences that are also side-splittingly funny. It can’t be denied, they know how to make you laugh.

Which makes it all the more surprising when they get things horribly wrong. To be sure, they skate on thin ice right through the first half, creating a sophisticated environment where you become less and less sure what’s planned and what’s out of control. To start with, there’s a lot of corpsing – the theatre term for actors losing their concentration on stage and starting to laugh. It goes on and on and on. It’s like they’ve been a little too seduced by the Auckland summer earlier in the day. Planned? Presumably yes – at least for the most part. [More


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