‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ delivers brilliant buffoonery
Slamming doors, mistaken identities, slapstick pratfalls and grandiose buffoonery await you at the Lyric Stage Company’s blisteringly funny production of “One Man, Two Guvnors.”
Based on the 18th century comedia dell’arte piece “The Servant of Two Masters,” “Guvnors” tells the tale of a goofy manservant working for two bosses — one a woman disguised as her dead brother, the other his killer. There’s also a host of dimwits, including a buxom brunette and an elderly waiter with a faulty pacemaker. All fall in line with a wacky plot that drives the madness onward.
The fate of this show lies squarely in the hands of the titular One Man at the center of it all, Neil Casey as Francis Henshall. The local actor proves he’s right for the job, as he breaks the fourth wall with a sly smile and a gleam in his eye, inviting the audience on an epic journey to find food — and then love.
At the close of Act I, when Henshall is charged with serving dinner to both his Guvnors at the same time, Casey casts comic magic as he single-handedly escalates the scene to a side-splittingly frantic pace. At this performance his improv banter with the audience was so funny that members of the cast — and band — struggled to maintain composure.
Due credit is owed, however, to Alfie (John Davin), an 87-year-old waiter who takes all the punches and always seems to be on the wrong side of slamming doors. Davin channels Jackie Wright (the little old bald guy on the “Benny Hill Show”) in his brilliant display of physical comedy.
The entire talented ensemble (nods to Aimee Doherty and Alejandro Simoes, as buxom bookkeeper Dolly and wannabe actor Ala, respectively) shines in this rollicking comedy of errors that all prove right.