Evaluate the use of theatre to create comedy in the production of one man, two guvnors

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Fady Philip

“Evaluate the use of theatre to create comedy in the production of one man, two guvnors.”

“One man, two guvnors” is a modern adaptation of ‘A Servant of Two Masters’ written by Carlo Goldoni in 1746. The play was updated by writer Richard Bean for the National Theatre production directed by Nick Hytner and Cal McCrystal. Set in 1960s Brighton, the play keeps the original Commedia performance conventions such as physical slapstick routines, cartoon like characters, music and song, improvisation and audience involvement. The title role was played by comedy actor James Corden in the original Harlequin role – the stock clown characters.

Throughout the whole play there was use of the ‘lazzi’ Commedia device, which consisted of staged comedy moments. A good example would be the entry of James Corden in a ridiculous check suit, then a complete silence, and then the dramatic tension is punctuated by a comment of “who’s that?” about the portrait of the queen. An example of a slapstick routine that I found quite funny was when Francis tries to lift the trunk making a repetitive “hip-dar” noise, and then fails by dropping it back down. There was also another hilarious moment where the audience responded with a noise of disgust when Francis drank a mixture of drinks and finds a cigarette end in the drink.

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The play also featured cartoon like characters such as Stanley Stubbers (Oliver Chris), who played a clichéd ex public school boy. He is also uncreative due to the fact he gave himself the name of Dustin Pubsign. He also has bizarre vocal mannerisms like “yep yep yep”. His visual appearance was also funny, with iron marks on his shirt as well as an excessively hairy chest and back. There was also a scene where he jumped off a pier but returns soaking wet and then has a clichéd sexy reunion with Rachel. There was visual comedy in height difference ...

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