Theater Review: 'One Man, Two Guvnors'

By Richard Bean; translated by Shlomo Moscowitz; directed by Moshe Kepten Bet Lessin; October 24.

‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Beit Lessin)
‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Beit Lessin)
British comedy, at least the best kind of British comedy – and Two Guvnors is such – is all about tone and timing.
Without these, what remains is clunk, not comedy. This production of Two Guvnors doesn’t miss a tasteless trick, bestowing a whole new meaning on “vulgar.”
Bean’s version, set in Brighton, is adapted from Carlo Goldoni’s (1707-93) The Servant of Two Masters in which ever-hungry servant Truffaldino contracts himself to two masters to be assured of a square meal. His efforts to keep the two ignorant of each other pile near-disaster on almost-catastrophe until the Happy End.
Goldoni wrote his comedy in commedia style. The largely improvisational commedia del arte exploded from the Renaissance.
Bean sites his comedy in the Swinging Sixties when the UK, London and music in particular exploded from the shabbiness and austerity of the post-World War II years.
Here the servant is one Francis (Eli Yatzpan). Master No. 1 is petty gangster Rosco Crabbe (Dikla Hadar), who’s actually Rachel dressed up as her brother, whom her lover Stanley Stubbers (Yuval Segal), and Master No. 2, has killed, so is in Brighton to evade the cops, but Rachel/Rosco has also arrived to collect a debt from Charlie (Shlomo Mimran), whose blond bimbo daughter Pauline (Maya Bachowski), thinking former-fiance Rosco dead, is engaged to wannabe actor Dick Dangle (Shlomi Tapiero).
Add an ancient, coordinationally-challenged waiter Alfi (Erez Weiss) to the mix and the pratfall possibilities go up a notch.
Indeed, the rubber-limbed Weiss provides a needed bit of genuine hilarity to the three-week-long hour-and-45-minute show. Yatzpan provides the other in the two (over-extended) audience interaction improvisations in the show.
For the rest, nobody, including Yatzpan, seems to be having much fun. The actors don’t speak so much as recite their text.
It flows from them without much variation in tone or pitch and without much change in pace or rhythm.
The show is redeemed in part by Orna Smorgonsky’s period- perfect and dazzling costumes, but its music provides the true high spots.
The songs, Daniel Efrat’s translations, and the quartet performing them are superb. The quartet is Noam Pinhasov, Arnon Siev, Omri Shani and Yuval Adam. The bouquet please!