Two Guvnors, one man and one riotously-brilliant show.
OK, so there’s a little cheaty element where you aren’t quite seeing what you think you are seeing, but maybe that makes it all the cleverer as a top-quality cast create chaos before your very eyes and very skilfully keep the lid on it.
The result is hilarious, genuinely so, a hugely-funny evening which offers the perfect tonic for a summer which this week is refusing to spark.
Loosely based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, it’s a play which doffs its cap much more to Carry On and slapstick with a pacey couple of hours of mistaken identities, deliberate lies and one poor chap – the Man with the Two Guvnors – flying by the seat of his pants, merely to survive.
Trying to scratch a living, Francis Henshall bites off far more than he can chew when he saddles himself to a gangster who isn’t what he seems and to a jolly toff of a murderer in 1960s Brighton. From there on in, he’s pedalling furiously – a terrific performance from Gavin Spokes as the loveable chancer.
But if Spokes get the chance so breathlessly to shine, it’s because the nuttiness around him is organised to perfection, with great performances all round, including Shaun Williamson (best known for playing Barry from EastEnders), Emma Barton, Jasmyn Banks, Alicia Davies, Michael Dylan, Derek Elroy, Edward Hancock and Patrick Warner.
All you can do is laugh and admire... and remember that they are going to be doing it all again tonight. Quite how remains a mystery. It’s knackering enough to watch. Goodness knows how Spokes feels by the end of it.
Mad, joyous, exhilarating stuff.