A National Theatre comedy, which has had audiences howling with laughter on both sides of the Atlantic, is heading our way as a key act in next year's Auckland Festival. One Man, Two Guvnors, which recently screened at Rialto Cinemas as part of the National Live series, will be staged at the Aotea Centre from March 14-23.
Written by Richard Bean (as an adaptation of the 18th century Venetian comedy Servant of Two Masters) and directed by NT artistic director Nicholas Hytner, this highly physical production features Welsh actor Owain Arthur as hapless hired goon Francis Henshall, replacing original star James Corden, who is now reprising the role in a Broadway season. The perennially hungry Henshall has two masters, both criminals: Roscoe Crabbe (actually Roscoe's sister Rachel, posing as her dead twin brother) and the sadistic Stanley Stubbers, Roscoe's killer. What Henshall, who is trying to stop his two bosses from ever meeting, doesn't know, is that the pair are lovers.
One Man, Two Guvnors has won a swag of awards, including Best Play in last year's Evening Standard Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards in the United States and seven Tony Award nominations, with Corden winning best actor.
Arthur's performance in a recent West End season has also been highly acclaimed. Reviews tend to be on the rave end of the scale: "one of the funniest productions in the National's history" (Guardian); "I found myself physically incapable with laughter" (Telegraph); "Owain Arthur brought the house down" (Evening Standard).
Herald critic Peter Calder said in his review of the National Live film, "For the sake of relative accuracy I need to award this show seven [stars]." Tickets go on sale next Friday; see the-edge.co.nz