Play-script - No.17





Title:      One Man, Two Guvnors


Writer:   Richard Bean (based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni)


Setting:    Brighton, April 1963.


This play was first performed at Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre on 17th May 2011.




Charlie 'Charlie the Duck' Clench  50s, Brighton based but originally London. (Pantalone)

Pauline Clench his daughter, Brighton. (Clarice)

Harry Dangle 60s,crooked solicitor, Rottingdean / tries to be posh Brighton. (Lombardi)

Alan the son of Dangle. (Silvio)

Dolly 30, an employee of Clench, Brighton. (Smeraldina)

Llyod Boateng 50, a friend to Clench, Jamaican. (Brighella)

Francis (Truffaldino)

Rachel Crabbe mid-20s, London. (Rachel Rasponi; 1st Master)

Stanley Stubbers mid-20s, Home counties, privately educated. (Florindo Aretusi;2nd Master)

Waiters/Porters as required



One Man, Two Guvnors is a two-act play, written by Richard Bean. Bean is also known for The Hypochondriac (a new version of Moliére's play), England People Very Nice and The Heretic, to name but a few. One Man, Two Guvnors is a new version of Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters. The play follows Francis Henshall, who has just been fired from a skiffle band. However, he lands on his feet quickly and acquires a job as a minder to Roscoe Crabbe. Roscoe is a small-time East End thug, who is in Brighton to collect £6,000 from his fiancée’s father. All is not what it seems; Roscoe is not Roscoe, but Rachel- his twin sister- who is posing as her dead brother. Roscoe was recently murdered by Rachel's boyfriend, Stanley Stubbers.


Francis Henshall is unaware his master is actually a woman. Henshall is constantly hungry and always trying to figure out when and where his next meal is coming from. In no time at all he ends up working for Stanley Stubbers as well as ‘Roscoe’. Stubbers is dodging the police, awaiting Rachel’s return. Henshall must not let either master know he is working for another. The more he tries to secretly balance both jobs and keep his ‘Guvnors’ apart and his belly full, the more danger he puts everyone in.


My thoughts:

One Man, Two Guvnors, has played to sold-out houses in both the West-End and Broadway since it opened in May of 2011. I’m determined to get to see it in the near future but until then, I’m content with reading the script.

I loved reading this play- it is an extremely funny piece of writing. I was laughing out loud so much whilst reading it, that the people around me began to inquire with their beady eyes “what book is that funny? I mean really…”.  The Times compared it to Fawlty Towers and The Comedy of Errors, I would certainly agree, it’s a rich mix of Vaudeville, Stand-Up Comedy, Farce and Commedia dell’Arte. In my opinion, the role of Francis Henshall was written for James Corden. It suits his style of comedy and delivery. Corden has just returned from Broadway where he has being playing the part of Henshall to packed houses.

One Man, Two Guvnors would suit a professional theatre company more so than an amateur one, mainly because of the scale of the production as there are lots of locations and large sets required. The script also requires a character planted in the audience plus audience interaction. I would love to see an Irish company produce this, however, I reckon the performance rights will be difficult to acquire for a little while yet, but you won’t know until you ask.


Useful links:

National Theatre

The Guardian

See the full list of my A Play A Day series here


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Write a comment

Comments: 1
  • #1

    Siobhan McLaughlin (Monday, 03 September 2012 18:43)

    Lve the description of the play and down to earth review! Would be right up my street and would love to watch it in the West End! My take on Henshall's eyes being too big for his belly represnts man's greed and power, relatable very much to present day economic misery but using human error and comedy through Henshall's certain demise is a good reminder to laugh - HA sounds like one classy play!