Sunday, 17 July 2011


I have already discussed the productions of COMEDY OF ERRORS and THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR. The National has revived another classic farce, Carlo Goldoni's THER SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS in a new adaptation by Richard Bean. In this version, we're not in Venice with commedia dell'arte style; we're in Brighton in 1963 with a style part British music hall and part CARRY ON films. A quartet looking like Buddy Holly and friends plays pre-Beatles British rock (skiffle music) before the show and between the scenes, often joined by cast members. The sets look like sets for music hall (vaudeville) sketches. The humor is bawdy and "naughty" like British humor of the fifties and later comics like Benny Hill. At the center is James Corden as the servant. He's a hefty comic, like America's Jackie Gleason or Phil Silvers, but physically agile. He is almost always on stage, but one never tires of him. He has been surrounded by a superb supporting cast who are obviously having a wonderful time. It's hilarious. Director Nicholas Hytner has found the perfect balance between precision and improvisation. It all seems improvised but one knows it isn't.
The production has been so successful that it is moving to the West End. It deserves a long run.

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