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LUTG’s production of One Man Two Guvnors is hands down one of the best productions the society has ever put on.
Right from the opening scene we know we’re onto something special. The first thing that catches the eye is the set. It is a marvel, truly a triumph and credit must be given to both the ingenuity and perseverance of the production team – clearly hours of hard work went into it and it really pays off. The set is designed in a way that it can be rotated during scene changes to great effect and it is really massively impressive and not something one would expect in wat is not only not only an amateur production, but a student one at that.
With a cast of ten, it’s too much to discuss them all, but it’s safe to say they are one of the strongest ensembles gathered together in a long time. Particular credit must go to Luke McDonnell, Jamie Lonsdale, Chiara Wakely and Aurelia “I don’t understand” Gage who give arguably the strongest performances (and in a cast this strong, that’s really saying something.)
McDonnell is really quite good as the incompetent Henshall, bumbling his way from one disaster to the next as he finds himself under the employment of not one, but two ‘Guvnors’. McDonnell has a natural affinity for comedy, and is rather encapsulating as he flails from one scene to the next, in a character that perfectly matches his real life cockney charm. Sadly, his character-breaking improvisations leave a bit to be desired, and some are more successful than others, but his performance really is excellent, and holds together what can be a somewhat bounding narrative.
Stealing every scene is Jamie Lonsdale as Stanley Stubbers, the most outrageous character in the play. His wonderfully random exclamations of shock (such as the infinitely repeatable “bacon and eggs!”) and general political incorrectness make him one of the funniest characters in the show, and Lonsdale absolutely nails the character and the audience love his every word. To take a character who could be so easy to despise and make him somehow lovable is a testament to Lonsdale’s skill as an actor.
To discuss every actor in detail would take too much time, and no mention here does not equate to an insubstantial performance. Truly they are an excellent cast, and each one absolutely embodies their role. The final song at the end, though disappointingly inaudible in parts, is a joy, showcasing all ten of the wonderful cast on stage at the same time and making clear just how much fun the group clearly had working together.
This is theatre group veteran Liam Wells’ first venture into the world of direction. It doesn’t show. So many decisions must have been made by Wells during the process and each one of them was a correct one. One of the best is Wells’ decision to use a live band – a great touch that really contributes to the feel of watching something special. Even the set changes become some form of entertainment, with in-character bits which keep the audience chuckling, more so than the usual backing track pumped out over a speaker would.
I could talk for hours about the brilliance of this production. But I won’t. All I’ll say is that One Man just goes to show that imagination, not budget, is one of the most important facets of theatre – and Wells’ production has truly set a standard which it will be difficult to match for a long time to come.