based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
by Richard Bean
directed by Nicholas Hytner
Dolly ..... Suzie Toase
Charlie 'The Duck' Clench ..... Fred Ridgeway
Lloyd Boateng ..... Trevor Laird
Pauline Clench ..... Claire Lams
Harry Dangle ..... Martyn Ellis
Alan Dangle ..... Daniel Rigby
Francis Henshall ..... James Corden
Rachel Crabbe ..... Jemima Rooper
Stanley Stubbers ..... Oliver Chris
Alfie ..... Davie Benson
Ensemble: Polly Conway; Jolyon Dixon; Derek Elroy; David Hunter; Paul Lancaster; Gareth Mason; Clare Thomson
The Band ... "The Craze" with Benjamin Brooker; Richared Coughlan; Philip Jamesl Grant Olding
Plot: half-wit Francis needs work, he takes on two jobs as 'assistants' to two people who are at odds with each other--so he must keep his second job a secret from each of his employers. He does keep the secret but he does both jobs poorly--confusing instructions and generally being a buffoon...but a very funny buffoon, who in the first half is consumed by his desire for FOOD. In the second half he becomes a slave to his desire for sex.
Meanwhile employer #1 is Stanley. He has has killed Roscoe who is his fiance's (Rachel) brother. Rachel is is now pretending to be Roscoe (employer #2) so she can collect $ from Charlie THE DUCK. She is in love with her brother's murderer Stanley but needs $ so they can run off together. Charlie THE DUCK had promised Roscoe that he could marry his daughter and would pay Roscoe a large dowry--which Rachel --pretending to be Roscoe-- is trying to collect. The rub is The Duck's daughter (Dolly) is in love with Lloyd (an aspiring actor) and she doe not want to marry Roscoe.
sez says: this is a very funny, laugh-out-loud piece of theater. It is based on lots of odd identity twists and buffoonery--but it all comes together via outstanding acting..and timing..and posturing...and even audience participation. It is probably even funnier to people in Great Britain who would understand better than us Yanks references to Public Schools, and such. Sometime it was pretty bawdy--but it got away with the rank humor because of it perfect pitch. There are not many places where a laugh can be extracted from a line about 11 years old boys being gang raped in public school. Interspersed between acts is a Skiffle Band (British Country & Western) that had just the right spirit. There is plenty of social commentary, including making fun of feminism, while, interestingly not being sexist. (Funny stuff about Margaret Thatcher, etc.)
mjc says: this was an unusual event for me--laughing out loud at the antics of these actors was pure pleasure. It was a demonstration of the impact of really skilled actors doing what they do best. See this if you can!
John Street Cafe (Grade A)
6 years ago