"Ello Guv'na! - Do you fancy a cup of tea?" Trade in your popcorn and soda for some tea and biscuits to prepare for W.T. Woodson's fantastic, audience interactive, and classically British production of One Man, Two Guvnors.
One Man, Two Guvnors follows the misfortunes of Francis Henshall, a poor, hungry man that ends up gaining two employers, the Guvnors. The show is based on the classic art form, commedia dell'arte where each character in the production follows a specific archetype. Commedia dell'arte is traditionally very fast paced and includes tons of movement and physicality from the actors. The transitional ensemble was a highlight throughout the show. Between scenes, ensemble members took the forms of buses at a bus station, drinkers in a pub, etc. All these moments elevated the production and allowed for it to move quickly and fluidly.
The role of Francis Henshall performed by Diya Selvan was impeccable. Selvan had the difficult task of maintaining a strong accent, having significant stage time, forcing their body to throw itself around, and improvise. In a role that involves many elements, it's critical that the actor be able to keep up with the pace of the show and Selvan was able to do just that and more. During any monologue that Henshall had, Selvan was able to add physicality to every moment and had incredible diction. This made it so that there was never a dull moment on stage and every word was understood despite the thick Brighton accent. Selvan exhibited expert comedic timing and could uphold that with whatever the audience threw at them. Selvan was absolutely invigorating, hilarious, grounded, and brightened up the stage.
The role of Alfie, portrayed by Silas Blocker was a particularly interesting role that will have audiences' eyes glued to the stage. Alfie is an 87-year-old man with health problems that affect his breathing, speech, etc. Playing an old man as a highschooler is a difficult task, so when that old man must endure tons of physical movement while maintaining an accent, the task becomes 10 times harder. Luckily, for Silas Blocker, they made the role of Alfie seem easy. Blocker was able to throw himself into walls, smash through doors, and fall over and over again. Blocker brought Alfie to life and turned him into such a lovable character. A lovable old man that was just trying to do his job yet was wrapped up in the shenanigans of Francis Henshall. Silas Blocker did a beautiful job at keeping up his energy throughout such a physically draining role.
The lighting team run by David Sprague, Noelle Cain, Lucas Czechowski, and Travis Conway did a beautiful job at perfecting moments on stage. In one of Francis' monologues, the lights began to dim and surrounded Francis as he began to spiral from his own thoughts. When the character of Stanley was confessing his love for the character of Rachel, the lighting team was there to transition from warm tones to cool tones, dramatizing the scene instantly. Lastly, when Francis spoke to the audience, the house lights were promptly brought up. The projections run by Lacey Vailikit were applaudable. Projections were used to elevate a joke, clarify a British norm, or even talk to the audience. Both the lighting and projections were elements that elevated the performance and interacted both with the cast and the audience.
If you're in the mood for some slapstick and British humor, or a mystery that will leave you gasping, be sure to check out W.T. Woodson High School's production of One Man, Two Guvnors!