‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ presented by the students of the British School in ColomboView(s):
Reviewed by Mithahasini Ratnayake
The auditorium of the British School of Colombo resonated with uncontrollable laughter as the enthusiastic young students of the school staged their rendition of the modern comedic farce, ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ which got on the boards from February 24-25.
Directed by Sophie Hindley, Head of Drama under the Visual and Performing Arts Department of the school, the play by Richard Bean, with its most popular adaptation being showcased on Broadway in 2011 (starring James Cordon), was no easy feat to pull off. However, the cast delivered gave quite a remarkable production, nailing the comedic timing, the general chaotic atmosphere, and the brisk exchanges in the script’s spirited dialogue.
Set in Brighton, England, the play was full of English humour of the 1960s’, cleverly incorporating a blend of creative Lankan twists. The life of the play was of course, the show’s protagonist, Francis Henshall; a man ‘on a quest for love and food’, played by Imadh Mashoor. This was a tough role, the nature of the character appearing to be nearly absurd, yet Imadh confidently secured it with his hilarious theatrics and contagious energy. It was an interactive play, with Imadh and others beckoning audience members to partake in their tumultuous antics, making it twice as entertaining.
Stanley Stubbers, portrayed by Himayath Nuzraan was another character done well, giving the part a comical twist, unlike the more sane persona of the original character. Himayath carried his role with his ‘spot on’ facial expressions and inane gestures, and Francis and Stanley’s messy interactions had the audience in fits of laughter. The energy between the duo was undeniable. Maya Vitarana executed her role with certainty and grace, presenting well the part of Rachael Crabbe, in disguise as her allegedly dead twin brother, Roscoe Crabbe. She was to essentially portray a woman portraying a man, fooling not just those in her view but the audience as well, when the surprise twist of her character was revealed.
A notable performance was by Ryed Zarook, playing Alan Dangle – the to-be husband of Pauline (Avanthi Gunasekara), daughter of gangster, Charlie-The-Duck (Alaina Jones). Ryed’s dramatic acting was spectacular, and his stage presence was evidently a favourite of the audience. Avanthi too delivered the dense nature of her character rather convincingly. Other must mentions are Dolly – the witty feminist personality played by Adithi Iyer and Harry Dangle, a crafty lawyer played by Noah Hearn.
Being a comedic farce, the plot of the play is not the highlight, and becomes less and less coherent, being overtaken by the chaos happening on stage. The cast delivered this perfectly, with ‘The Cricketer’s Arms’ (the social pub) being a centre for all the nonsensical events unfolding. An honorable mention to Vinuk Jayewardene playing Alfie – an off the rocket waiter of a very old age, who was a character of purely absurd nature. You could only imagine the wild exchanges of dialogue and the vigour of the pumped up actors as Stanley, Francis and Alfie engaged with one another on stage.
The backstage crew should be given much credit for the smooth scene changes that took place in quick time with the musical intervals. Other subtle elements of the farce were also executed well. An ensemble character would be perched in a corner, reading a newspaper upside down. A nun would walk into a bar. A picture frame in the middle of the room would be lopsided (whether of not this was done on purpose, it nonetheless had an effect).
The students surely had a whale of a time taking part in a production of this nature. Their appreciation for the text and the play was reflected by the positive reactions of the audience. Well done to the cast, crew, teachers in charge and to the school itself.
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