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One Man, Two Guvnors at Melville Theatre

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Silly outrageous fun with new spin on popular tale
One Man, Two Guvnors, Melville Theatre, James Corden, performing arts, comedy, A Servant of Two Masters, politically incorrect, Carlo Goldoni, commedia dell'arte
Sean Bullock, Don Callison, Amri Mrisho, Chris Bedding, Warren McGrath, Sarah Christiner in One Man, Two Guvnors.

A quest for fish, chips and mushy peas in the 1960s leads to a hilarious and politically incorrect caper at Melville Theatre this November and December. Written by Richard Bean and directed by Vanessa Jensen, One Man, Two Guvnors is based on the most famous of Carlo Goldoni's works, A Servant of Two Masters, originally written in the 1740s.

In this modern take on the tale, first staged in 2011, one man in the British seaside town of Brighton serves two criminal bosses and has to keep them apart while desperate for food and trying to woo a woman at the same time. "It's silly, outrageous fun!" Vanessa said. "But producing a play that was originally written and produced by the National Theatre in London was always going to be tricky.

"You have to take the big set, big effects and big budget and put them on a small stage with a not-so-big budget. And there's the whole James Corden thing the host of The Late Late Show and Carpool Karaoke played the lead in the original National Theatre production, as well as the West End and Broadway, which are big shoes to fill. Luckily, I have the phenomenal Chris Bedding to fill those shoes, after James did not answer my calls, so I'm happy."

One Man, Two Guvnors, Melville Theatre, James Corden, performing arts, comedy, A Servant of Two Masters, politically incorrect, Carlo Goldoni, commedia dell'arte
Kim Taylor, left, Pip Tompson, Peter Neaves, Lachlan Stewart find themselves involved in a hilarious caper in One Man, Two Guvnors.

First appearing on stage as an eight-year-old and directing her first show at 14, Vanessa has a wealth of theatre experience behind her. She wrote, directed, stage managed and acted in various shows at Curtin University's Hayman Theatre over a four-year period and has staged several successful productions at the Old Mill and Melville Theatres, including The Venetian Twins, Emma, Three Tall Women, Pride and Prejudice, Away, Amadeus and her own award-winning script Jamie's Chooks.

Away won Jensen the Constance Ord Award for directing at the 2010 Milly Awards and she also received a best director nomination at the annual Finley Awards for Amadeus in 2011 and Love, Loss and What I Wore in 2015. Awards continued in 2013 and 2014 when her productions of Rabbit Hole and Twelve Angry Men at Melville Theatre both won best play at the Finley Awards the latter also scored her the Susan Hayward Award for Best Director.

One Man, Two Guvnors, Melville Theatre, James Corden, performing arts, comedy, A Servant of Two Masters, politically incorrect, Carlo Goldoni, commedia dell'arte
One Man, Two Guvnors features Victoria Dixon, left, Lachlan Stewart, Kim Taylor, Pip Tompson and Peter Neaves.

Vanessa's inspiration to direct One Man, Two Guvnors stemmed from her 2008 production of The Venetian Twins, another modern adaptation of a Goldoni play. "I had an absolute blast doing it," she said. "The rehearsal process was great fun and the audiences loved it.

"When I saw the rights were available for One Man, Two Guvnors, I was determined to do it. The play is loosely based on commedia dell'arte, via the Goldoni version, and it's a genre of theatre that fascinates me which added to the appeal of directing the show."

One Man, Two Guvnors, Melville Theatre, James Corden, performing arts, comedy, A Servant of Two Masters, politically incorrect, Carlo Goldoni, commedia dell'arte
Stanley Stubbers (Sean Bullock, left), Francis (Chris Bedding) and Rachael Crabbe (Sarah Christiner) in One Man, Two Guvnors.

Chris Bedding plays Francis, the "one man" of the play's title. "He is naive and inept but knows what he wants mainly food and women," he said. "In his constant quest for a decent feed and financial stability, Francis ends up working for two bosses at once and hilarity ensues.

"Francis gets beaten up repeatedly and does a lot of juggling of props so it's a very active role. It also involves a certain amount of improvisation with no night ever being the same."

Singing and acting from a young age, Chris made his debut in a school production of Oklahoma! in 1990 and has worked as an actor and director with Garrick, Playlovers and Ellenbrook Theatres in productions such as Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, Hot Mikado, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Spamalot. He has also competed in Theatresports at a state and national level and studied improvisation at the Second City Training Centre and iO Theater, both in Chicago.

One Man, Two Guvnors, Melville Theatre, James Corden, performing arts, comedy, A Servant of Two Masters, politically incorrect, Carlo Goldoni, commedia dell'arte
One Man, Two Guvnors provides plenty of silly, outrageous fun in a quest for fish, chips and mushy peas.

A friend of mine encouraged me to audition for One Man, Two Guvnors after seeing the West End version of the play," Chris said. "I'm excited this is a WA premiere of a popular new play and that the role suits my look and style."

One Man, Two Guvnors plays at 8pm November 25, 26, December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 with a 2pm matinee December 4. Tickets are $20, $15 concession book on 9330 4565 or at www.meltheco.org.au. Melville Theatre is on the corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra.
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Why? A comedy caper with a great pedigree success in the West End and on Broadway, inspired by an 18th century work with a similar pedigree.
When: 8pm November 25, 26, December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9 & 10; 2pm December 4
Phone: 9330 4565
Where: Melville Theatre, corner of Stock Road and Canning Highway, Palmyra
Cost: $20, $15 concession
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