Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Hilarity reigns in 'One Man, Two Guvnors' at Palo Alto Players

Doug Santana plays Francis Henshall, who must serve two guvnors.

Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” an updated version of Carlo Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters,” is a hilarious farce in the hands of Palo Alto Players.

It takes place in Brighton, England, in 1963. The one man is Francis Henshall (Doug Santana), who starts with one guvnor, Roscoe Crabbe, who was murdered.

That guvnor’s twin sister, Rachel (Katie O’Bryon Champlin), assumes her brother’s identity to claim the hand (and dowry) of his fiancée, Pauline Clench (Michelle Skinner), who’s about as dumb as they come.

However, Pauline is in love with aspiring actor Alan Dangle (Drew Benjamin Jones), who emotes most of the time.

Inadvertently Francis acquires another guvnor, Stanley Stubbers (Brad Satterwhite).

After that, things get crazier and crazier, especially when Stanley and Roscoe/Rachel have lunch in separate rooms at the same pub.

As Francis prepares to serve them, he must contend with both his own voracious appetite and an aging, tottering waiter, Alfie (Chris Mahle).

Dealing with his two guvnors requires all of Francis’s ingenuity and quick thinking. Santana is more than equal to the task, even when ad libbing.

All becomes clear as Francis (Doug Santana, center) explains everything.
Eventually everything works out. In the meantime, the audience is treated to almost nonstop hilarity thanks to the comic skills of Santana and the other 10 actors under the direction of Patrick Klein, PAP artistic director, and physical comedy director Carla Pantoja.

Adding to the fun in this British farce is the skiffle band, which sings and plays the music of Bean and songs of Grant Olding before each curtain and between scenes. It’s under the tutelage of music director Lauren Bevilacqua.

Director Klein also designed the set. Costumes are by Patricia Tyler, lighting by Ben Hemmen and sound by Grant Huberty.

Running about two hours and a half hours with one intermission, “One Man, Two Guvnors” will continue through June 30 at the Lucie Stern Theatre, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto.

For tickets and information, call (650) 329-0891 or visit www.paplayers.org.

Photos by Joyce Goldschmid