Wednesday, August 31, 2011


National Theatre at the Lyttleton

What would Carlo Goldoni make of Richard Bean's hugely successful and side-splittingly hilarious re-working of his Servant of Two Masters ?

Well, he'd recognise the famous dinner scene, superbly served up in Nicholas Hytner's stylish production. And the flats giving a perspective view of the seaside – Brighton standing in for La Serenissima. And the concept of a star player stepping out of the plot to improvise like a stand-up, and interact with audience members. Goldoni's original Harlequin one such – the talented, and equally famous James Corden another, working to brilliant effect as the permanently hungry and slightly slow-witted Francis Henshall, who strives to serve both Jemima Rooper's lairy Roscoe and the public school toff Stanley Stubbers [beautifully caught by Oliver Chris].
The classy company included several masters of the farce, not least the crowd-pleasing doddery waiter of Tom Edden.
And I've not even mentioned the marvellous music [Grant Olding], using skiffle and rock'n'roll pastiche to bridge the scenes and transport us to the early sixties. With some glorious speciality spots, including Corden on the xylophone.
A sell-out in the Lyttleton, a West End transfer already selling well, and cinema relays sold out all over the UK – Goldoni, who died in poverty and in exile, would certainly have approved of that.

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