LOGAN — When I left the Lyric Repertory theatre, my partner and I continued to chuckle to each other the whole way home. One Man, Two Guvnors left me with sore abs and hurting cheeks from belly laughing and smiling so much. Lyric Repertory Company puts on a fantastically hilarious production full of music, slapstick, and clever jokes that made me want to see the show again and again.

Show closes July 20, 2023.

One Man, Two Guvnors was adapted by Richard Bean from the 17th century Italian play The Servant of Two Masters, originally written by Carlo Goldoni. The Lyric Rep’s production of the screwball comedy is set in 1968 England. The show follows Francis, a well-meaning but perpetually hungry servant who takes on the work of two men, gangster Roscoe Crabbe and uptight upper-class Stanley Stubbers. Francis works hard to ensure that neither men meet each other so that they do not know that he is also employed by the other. What complicates events even more is that Roscoe is actually Rachel, his twin sister, who is engaged to Stanley. Even more, (the recently murdered) Roscoe was betrothed to Pauline Clench, daughter of mob boss Charlie “The Duck” Clench, but all Pauline wants to do is marry wannabe actor Alan. Among this convoluted craze of relationships, even more comedy ensues when identical letters are swapped, elderly waiters’ pacemakers are put to the test, audience members are brought on stage, and Francis tries and tries again to get just a single bite of food.

Starting off with the “One Man,” Michael Doherty as Francis gives an excited performance to the busy character. Doherty embodies the spastic, hungry energy of the servant with bouts of physical comedy that are as impressive as they are hilarious. He also clearly communicates with the audience members he brings onstage in such a way that provides feelings of safety, while at the same time ‘improv’-ing jokes with them that elicit roars of laughter. The only struggle that the actor had was getting used to waiting for the laughter to die down after he told his jokes, but by the end, Doherty was so comfortable in his role that he felt just as much of a friend of mine as he did to the other actors on the stage. 

Brandon Foxworth as supportive friend Lloyd has expert comedic timing and natural gravitas. Mia Gatherum as Rachel (and Roscoe) Crabbe excellently balances both roles of a menacing gangster and a caring fiancée, often acting as the ironic voice of reason in the play. Bailee Miner is a delightfully dumb Pauline, who playfully exposes the hilarity of her situation in the play. Miner shows her skill as she also carefully crafts a serious relationship with her flamboyant partner Alan (played by Andrew Moody). Miner and Moody brilliantly bounce off each other to highlight the comedic dramatics of their characters, while also showing the depth of their love.

Ashlynn Rober brings feminist bookkeeper Dolly to life with her raspy voice and flirtatious remarks with leading man Doherty. Although she plays a smaller role, Rober does not waste a moment of her time onstage, as she makes every vivacious line count. And speaking of smaller roles, Liza Shoell plays Alfie, the 87-year-old nearly blind, hard of hearing, pace-maker bearing waiter. Shoell performs for only a few minutes of the show, but her hunched walk, shaking hands, and dangling tongue brought tears to my eyes from the hilarity of her performance.

The comedic skill is apparent for every member of the cast, even those that are not mentioned by name in this review. For a play that has so many moving parts, it was a joy to watch every single performer understand how each line that they were speaking contributed to the whole of the show. Director Jay Stratton aptly ensures that both the lead characters and ensemble members each had their moment of laughter in the spotlight. In a busy farce, it is a smart director who knows when to have other performers take a step back to let others shine. 

A four-piece band plays on either side of the stage as the scene transitions take place behind a curtain. This small band plays covers of lesser known Beatles songs that relate to the story of the show. Certain members of the cast even come out during the songs to join them in groovy, dance-generating performances. Luke Shepherd plays the keyboard, sings, and leads the band with effortless skill. Thomas Pratt plays the bass, and Ben Gittins plays the drums. (The other guitarist is not listed in the program.) All members of the band work closely together and clearly have a good time doing it. This smart inclusion of the band propels the show forward with energy and keeps the action of the play engaging even when the curtain is drawn.

Michael Shipley does a great service to the show as its voice, text, and dialect Coach; each actor spoke in a consistently clear English accent throughout the entire play. Additionally, no one has a microphone on stage except the band members, and yet it is never noticeable as the actors project to the back of the theatre while also keeping their comical inflections intact. 

Sera Shearer designed a simple yet alluring set, easily shifting to a different scene while popping with 1960s bright patterns and colors. Shearer also designed all the set walls to be at an angle, very effectively setting a comedic tone before the actors even say a word. This is a similar strength of the costume design by Lydia Semler. Semler’s use of layers of colors and mixing of vintage patterns create a vibrant array of characters that kept my eyes captivated for the entire production. 

I could go on and on about this production of One Man, Two Guvnors — and not just for how hard it made me laugh. Lyric Repertory Company puts on a clever production in every aspect, making the work behind it feel effortless. The talented efforts of every member of the cast, production team, and creative team have resulted in an endlessly enjoyable show. One Man, Two Guvnors is a side-splittingly good time. There is nothing bad about the production — except that there are only three more performances.

The Lyric Repertory Company production of One Man, Two Guvnors plays July 10, 15, and 20 at 7:30 PM in the Caine Lyric Theatre (30 West Center Street, Logan). Tickets are $15-35. For more information, visit usu.edu/lyricrep.

This review is generously supported by a grant from the Utah Division of Arts and Museums.