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By Nadia Sam-Daliri
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Harmoniously fusing sharply-scripted dialogue with laugh-out-loud slapstick is no easy feat for a stage comedy but One Man, Two Guvnors manages it beautifully.
This really is a return to form for James Corden who not only delivers his lines with great timing and a hilarious knack for physical humour but reminds us how effortlessly funny he is just being himself.
Corden plays Francis, a hapless, food-obsessed failed skiffle player who somehow finds himself working for two bosses.
One is Rachel, who spends the play disguised as her murdered gangster twin brother in a bid to secure a windfall so she can elope to Australia with her lover.
The other is Stanley, a gangly, unaware toff who is actually Rachel’s lover and the one who unwittingly bumped off her twin.
But neither knows that Francis is working for both of them.
The farce that ensues has an old-fashioned British humour quality to it, somewhere between Only Fools and Horses and Carry On.
But it is warm, quick-paced and very, very amusing.
In an unorthodox set-up, Corden’s scenes are interspersed with breaks for audience interaction.
In one scene during the show I saw, he made a plea for a sandwich from the auditorium and, completely bemusing to him, some bloke offered one up.
The way Corden let rip (to up his game once he discovered it was a hummus sandwich) may have been a bit pre-planned but its delivery reaffirmed how spontaneously droll he is.
But credit must go, equally, to his co-stars, in particular Oliver Chris, who only had to open his mouth to emit his nasally, Eton-posh splutter to have the audience in stitches.
His trademark “yup yup yup” to almost everything became funnier each time.
The storyline of this 1960s charade is, admittedly, hardly multifaceted or surprising but this updated version by Richard Bean is really good entertainment.
Corden is on top, once again.
One Man, Two Guvnors is at the Adelphi theatre until February 25.