One Man Two Guvnors at the National Theatre Online
The National Theatre has launched a weekly free theatre stream to make self-isolation more bearable. Each week a fun theatre classic will be shown and available to all. The first show to be streamed is the 2011 production of One Man, Two Guvnors, featuring James Corden and the rest of the fabulous original cast. The production will be available to stream for the next week on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel and is well worth the watch. The funny classic will definitely make you smile and bring the joy of theatre to the comfort of your own home.
Carlo Goldoni’s 1793 Italian classic Servant of Two Masters is adapted into One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean. The 2011 production is a quintessentially English take on commedia dell’arte that gives us exaggerated characters paired with nostalgic culture and forces us to laugh at ourselves. The production follows Francis Henshall (Corden), a man looking for work in Brighton during the 60s who ends up involved in a messy situation by chance. Francis finds himself employed by two separate men: a gangster (Jemima Rooper) who was thought to be dead, and a posh fool (Oliver Chris) who seems to be on the run. With slapstick comedy, audience participation and polished clowning, it seems like the National has chosen the perfect show to help us escape the anxiety of our current reality. However, it is questionable if One Man, Two Guvnors translates successfully into a filmed viewing experience.
The atmosphere of the production looks as if being in the audience watching the show live made it truly memorable. Between Corden’s spontaneous banter with audience members and the live musical intervals, it seems as if simply watching behind a screen is a disservice to the experience of the production. The lack of thought towards the final product on screen is disappointing at times, considering the National’s past success and immaculate live theatre recordings. However, One Man, Two Guvnors is still ridiculously enjoyable and will no doubt be every theatre buff’s cup of tea.
Photo: Johan Persson
One Man Two Guvnors is streaming on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel from 2nd to 8th April 2020. For further information about the National’s series of streamed performances visit the theatre’s website here.