|Ron May and Joseph Kremer|
(photo: Erin Evangeline Photography)
"One Man, Two Guvnors, now playing at Phoenix Theatre, is hilarious....isn’t simply a typical British farce based on an Italian play, it’s a celebration of all Brit music hall comedy, the kind that inspired Benny Hill, the Carry On team and Brian Rix....The manic plot is not an easy sell, but basically, as the title suggests, Francis Henshall (Ron May) is a servant employed by two men. One, a gangster, the other, a criminal, and both in hiding, away from the madding crowd of London. Francis is hungry, literally and figuratively, and takes on the double duty of serving two men hoping it will eventually lead to a full meal. It’s the manic energy of doing his best to keep the two guv’nors apart that keeps the play rolling until everyone collapses from sheer exhaustion by the final bow.... Bean’s script incorporates such continual, rapid fire witty dialog among the visual gags – burnt iron marks on two white shirts is side-splitting – that audiences are treated to the best of all comedic worlds...There’s also improvisation when Ron May enlists the help of audience members to help him on stage ..The play’s biggest laugh – and it’s a genuine gut buster – just before the intermission evolves out of yet more audience participation, but to explain further would be criminal. See it for yourself....The sizeable cast all bring that abundance of energy needed to make the show work as they race around while trying to keep out of each other’s way...at the center of it all is Ron May recreating the role that made James Corden the toast of both London and New York, and it’s perfect casting. ...May brings a different kind of energy to the role of the servant; it’s one fueled by nerves. With eyes that constantly dart from left to right, a brow that continually needs wiping and a face that can neither relax nor smile, May looks like an overweight ball of stress; you can see his mind never stops.
...The play suffers from a weaker second half that can’t quite reach the giddy heights of the first, plus there’s a danger amongst the mayhem as things begin to wrap that it may at any moment all fall apart. But somehow it doesn’t. After watching the cleverness of One Man, Two Guvnors, a regular British farce with all its banging doors, its PG-rated sexual innuendo, the mistaken identities and the trouser-dropping will no longer seem enough." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)
"Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors is a very funny mash up of British music hall comedy, a variety show, and a farce. Phoenix Theatre is presenting the Phoenix regional premiere, with Ron May giving a hilarious performance as the "one man." May's entire supporting cast is also having a blast and this production is a laugh riot filled with many side-splitting moments as well as a few fun musical numbers....That play focuses on a harlequin who gets into comical situations while working for two bosses...one is a criminal in hiding, the other a local gangster who just recently killed a man. ...Francis Henshall, believing he has hit the jackpot by having two jobs at the same time, relishes his new found wealth. But with his constant cravings for food and women always on his mind, he unfortunately can't keep the two jobs straight. He also has to ensure that his two bosses never meet, which adds plenty of farcical situations and slapstick comedy bits. Needless to say, hilarity ensues...with the results including mistaken identity, pratfalls, secret identities, and the character of Henshall constantly breaking the fourth wall and interacting with the audience members—a few of whom find themselves up on stage. Bean has crafted some great gag moments that provide May plenty of opportunities to show his comic abilities....May is the star here and he is a comic genius. He gives it his all and flings himself about the stage, attempting to avert disaster at every possible turn, while at the same time also having a sweet engagement with the audience. May doesn't oversell the comedy, instead giving many of the comedic lines a soft delivery, which actually works better and makes the humor more organic. He expertly interacts with the other actors playing various oddball characters, provides plenty of funny bits with his many interactions with the audience, and perfectly gets the humor in the many gags he takes part in. He also comes across as a very lovable harlequin, which provides some heart to the whole affair. I saw James Corden play the part on Broadway, and May is just as good as Corden was....May and the entire cast instill their characters with comical traits and throw themselves into the roles with equal abandonment. They also have to elicit an improvisational feel to their parts, even though some of the improv is meticulously scripted, and they all deliver in spades....Director Pasha Yamotahari keeps the lunacy going at a fever pitch and has crafted, along with Bean, some very inspired moments. ...With multiple laugh out loud moments and a fun cast led by a superb performance by Ron May, Phoenix Theatre's One Man, Two Guvnors is definitely the funniest show in town." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)
"Slapstick, fat jokes and flatulence never looked so smart as they do in One Man, Two Guvnors, a farce so old-fashioned it feels fresh....The play's local premiere, at Phoenix Theatre, stars Ron May as Francis Henshall, a portly, perpetually confused bloke working as henchman and handservant to two crime bosses — neither of them particularly intimidating — in the seaside town of Brighton...May... is a gifted comic actor who brings an endearing nervous energy to the stage. And Guvnors demands every ounce of that energy, whether it's the carefully choreographed pratfalls or the quick-witted improvisations as Francis breaks the proverbial fourth wall to chat up the audience. ..May keeps the laughs rolling..Directed by Pasha Yamotahari, this production features fine-tuned comic turns by the entire cast.." - Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic (click here to read the complete review)
"Hurrah for performers who take big risks, who dare to extend themselves beyond their comfort zones, and deliver big time on their dare. Hurrah, therefore, for Ron May...in Phoenix Theatre's production of Richard Bean's One Man, Two Guvnors, scales new heights with a laugh out loud and shining portrayal of a modern times harlequin....Mr. May is an unadulterated hoot as Francis Henshall, a seemingly shiftless and oft-times bewildered chap with a seemingly insatiable hunger for both food (in the name of gluttony) and cash (in the name of love) who shifts into high gear to satisfy both by becoming the manservant to two men, each of whom is unwittingly and unknowingly interconnected to the other and unaware that they share Francis's services....Mr. May navigates through this madcap scenario like Looney Tunes' Tasmanian devil, periodically engaging the audience in his quest for food and on-stage assistance. May's physicality and improvisational smarts are fully and richly on display as are the rich talents of the marvelous ensemble that Mr. Yamotahari has assembled....There is so much in this work that reminds one of the golden days of vaudeville or the pranks and pratfalls of a Buster Keaton or a Lou Costello or even the tongue twister phrases that Johnny Carson articulated on late night TV. There's an absolutely delightful exposition on the attributes of monozygotic twins. There's the prescient, if not overly optimistic, forecasting about what life and politics might be like some twenty years after...Clever stuff indeed ~ all the way through this gloriously funny production, complemented by Nick Mozak's splendid set design and Cari Sue Smith's well-tailored costumes....One Man, Two Guvnors continues its rollicking run on the Mainstage Theatre at Phoenix Theatre through June 14th." -Herbert Paine, Broadway World (click here to read the complete review)