REVIEW: One Man, Two Guvnors at The Spring Arts Centre in Havant

The cast of HumDrum's One Man, Two Guvnors
The cast of HumDrum's One Man, Two Guvnors

Brighton. 1963.

An engagement party, a mobster back from the dead, a lover on the run from the law, a girl in man’s clothes, a geriatric waiter and trapped in the middle of it all is Francis Henshall, a washboard player with two bosses and a desperate need for some chips!

Richard Bean’s adaptation of the classic Goldoni farce took the world by storm and launched James Corden’s career, the mix of whip-smart writing and high speed slapstick proving irresistible.

For obvious reasons then, taking on this play is a huge task for any company and Humdrum manage it with aplomb, director Sam Sampson keeping the action going at high speed and even popping up onstage as the aforementioned waiter due to the indisposition of one of his actors.

In the central role Darren Gilmore gives a tour-de-force performance, regularly diving into the audience to beg help or berate, his desperation as his mounting lies continually crumble only to be replaced with ones even more far-fetched is pitched perfectly.

Elsewhere Kerri Jeffrey is sweet and intimidating in equal measure as the lover on the run impersonating her dead brother and employing Francis as her minder, while Mike Palmer is gloriously funny as the other guvnor.

If you need a laugh (and these days who doesn’t?) this is just what the doctor ordered.

MATT MERRITT