Honesty might supposedly be the best policy but it is not particularly funny. How many perfectly amusing criminal deals and loveless relationships must have been ruined because someone decided to tell the truth?
Thankfully then, the Bendigo Theatre Company’s latest production One Man, Two Guvnors is filled with enough cockney gangsters, crooked lawyers and shady hangers-on to keep you snorting all evening.
Much like Carlo Goldoni's The Servant of Two Masters (on which the play is based) the plot revolves around a series of increasingly complex lies and double identities.
One Man,Two Guvnors sees penniless thug Francis (played by Chris Pedler) travel to 1960s Brighton to help a bruiser called Roscoe (Amy McMillan) confront his would-be father-in-law Charlie (Conor Cunningham) about a debt.
Roscoe’s also more than a little miffed his fiance Pauline (Amy Vaux) is now engaged to someone else.
Complexities deepen further when the audience figures out that Roscoe is actually his twin sister Rachel in disguise.
It is a delicate situation which Francis does nothing to simplify by taking a job on the sly with Stanley (Chris Emond), the same violent criminal who recently knifed Roscoe.
This is a script that draws a lot of laughs from physical comedy and the play demands a lot from its actors.
Chris Pedler is terrific in the most physical role of them all, bringing energy and wit to his character’s manic attempts to trick everyone out of money, food or sex.
Pedler has a lot of support from other primary actors. Chris Emond is a particular stand-out, almost stealing the show with his portrayal of the jovial but psychotic Stanley.
Emond’s one-liners will be the ones people will quote as they walk back to their cars after the show.
Other highlights include Amy Vaux’s portrayal of the moronic wife-to-be Pauline, Jason McMurray as her jealous lover, Amy McMillan’s mysterious Roscoe/Rachel character, the vivacious Emma Black and crime patriarchs Conor Cunningham and Paul Henshall.
As you might expect, the Bendigo Theatre Company has also found some great musicians.
The company always seems to do music so well and this time the live band belts out some cracking numbers during set changes as well as the production’s two stage songs.
Along with the band, the ensemble does a great job in their roles which also include helping with set changes.
Backstage, the show’s crew has been busy assembling a long list of props that add to the laughs.
If you don’t mind a good amateur production and want to see a play that has made a few waves in the United Kingdom in recent years this production is well worth your time.
One Man, Two Guvnors begins this this Friday at the BTC Arts Shed and continues through to Sunday 2 July, 2017. For tickets visit the company’s website.