Richard Bean's One Man Two Guvnors'

Date 19th May 2018
Society Woodchurch Players
Venue Woodchurch Memorial Hall
Type of Production Farce
Director Beth Fenton, Mark Perrian and Ben Vincer


Author: Anne Lawson

With a modern concept comedy ‘Servant of Two Masters’ from 1743,  Richard Bean has changed the setting to 1960s' Brighton using the Commedia dell’arte ideas producing much comedy, musical numbers, engaging with the audience, slapstick and more. Francis Henshall is really hungry and has been sacked from his skiffle band and finds himself in the employ of two ‘govnors’  Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers, whilst trying to appear to only be working for one, with obvious hilarious results. A comprehensive bright red A5 programme was created by Nick Jones and Tim Nolan, made for good reading. 

What a great band, with music that I knew the words to! The House Band was led by Mike Headling on acoustic guitar who guided us on a walk around the streets of Brighton, which I am quite familiar with. He was accompanied by Adrian Williams on electric guitar, Helen Kendrick bass guitar and Peter West on drums, playing a selection of Lonnie Donegan’s music, including ‘Rock Island Line’ and more.  At the finale we were all up and dancing the Twist – magic!  The attraction of the Goldettes – Emily, Elena and Maddy, students from Highworth Grammar School added a sparkle which included  The Crystals 1963 ‘Da Doo Run Run’ with synchronised arm movements too.

What an achievement for Ben Vincer on his debut directorship and playing the leading role too with such confidence and comedy.  Pace was amazing throughout with Elizabeth Fenton and Mark Perrian co directing and also playing big parts with distinction. Combat was worthy of mention – there was some very effective action with packed punches and a cricket bat upper cut.  Probably a few bruises? The planted audience participation worked really well, with Christine Paterson minding the soup tureen and then ending up on stage getting a soaking – so funny. Accents were carried through convincingly and each member of the cast without exception studied and characterised with aplomb. 

Attention to details in the sets designed by Les Fenton and Neil Vincer was spot on. Coloured panels and beams turned and added to for each set change which was beautifully covered by the band playing another number. Good team work from the team headed by SM Steve Coles.  Particularly good doors for the slapstick fast and ferocious exits and entries – a great WG Grace cut-out lookalike, signs at the Cricketers’ Arms such as the Compton and Bradman Rooms, the seafront suicide jump off Brighton Pier with sound effects – oh so many to mention. The technical team did their usual magic with design from Tim Nolan with Eliot Gannon on Follow Spot and Rocket Wady on sound.

Ann Tiplady got the costumes just right, with Make-up and Hair a good 60s look  – Rachel’s disguise, a dark suit, collar and tie with trilby with the make-up including sideburns.  Very dramatic all in black for Alan Dangle who swept his head so well. Pauline in her mini length frock, Waiters uniforms, Alfie’s greying up and age lines, and I loved the almost clownlike check jacket slightly too big was perfect for Francis. Dolly the accountant correct in her twinset with chignon hairdo perfect.