Now playing: One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors One Man, Two Guvnors One Man, Two Guvnors One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors

By Richard Bean
Based on The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
With songs by Grant Olding
Directed by David Ivers
A co-production with South Coast Repertory
Main Season · Roda Theatre
May 8–June 21, 2015
West Coast Premiere

Running time: 2 hours and 35 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission

Welcome to swingin’ England. The disarming and doltish Francis Henshall finds himself trapped by farce into working for two bosses—who are connected to each other in wildly improbable ways. He just has to keep them from discovering each other. Easy, right? Inspired insanity, high-low antics, and nimble wordplay ensue—all backed by live musicians paying homage to rockabilly and a certain Fab Four. Join Francis in the fun as he leads you through this topsy-turvy world of love triangles and mistaken identities. It’s more than a sassy update of Carlo Goldoni’s classic knee-slapper, The Servant of Two Masters. It’s a brilliantly delicious mash-up of splendid comedy, British pantomime, and music-hall revues.

One Man, Two Guvnors includes use of an herbal cigarette. Berkeley Rep offers an advisory about any stage effect of potential concern to patrons’ health. We don’t offer advisories about subject matter, as sensitivities vary from person to person. If you have any concerns about content, please contact the box office.


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Premium: $67–89 · Section A: $55–75 · Section B: $39–59

Prices are subject to change at any time. Generally, your best bet is to buy early. Weeknight tickets tend to cost less than weekends. For the consistently lowest prices, see any three or more subscription plays.

One Man, Two Guvnors calendar

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Cast and creative team

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Ron Campbell* · Alfie

In a career that has spanned four decades and four continents, Ron has performed everywhere from the streets of Paris and Rome to the Royal Albert Hall in London, the Fuji Dome in Japan, the Ancient Theatre of Epidaurus in Greece, the Habima in Israel, American Conservatory Theater, the Mark Taper Forum, the Mercury Theater (Chicago), the Huntington Theatre Company, Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Actors’ Gang, and various local stages. A recipient of the Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement, Ron was lead clown in Cirque du Soleil’s Kooza. His one-man shows include R. Buckminster Fuller, The Thousandth Night, Shylock, The Dybbuk, The Boneman of Benares, and Beckett’s Eh Joe. Ron has received Theatre Critics Circle Awards in Los Angeles and the Bay Area and nominations for Jeff and Helen Hayes Awards. An associate artist at California Shakespeare Theater, Ron can be contacted through soarfeat.org.

Ron Campbell

William Connell* · Stanley

William’s New York City and regional credits include A View from the Bridge (2010 Broadway revival); The Coast of Utopia (Lincoln Center); Alphabetical Order and The Maddening Truth (Keen Company); Hamlet (Aspen Music Festival); One Man, Two Guvnors (Pioneer Theatre Company); The Hour of Feeling (Humana Festival); The Winslow Boy and The Mousetrap (the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); The 39 Steps (Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival); Bell, Book and Candle (SF Playhouse); The Importance of Being Earnest (Gulfshore Playhouse); The Voice of the Turtle (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); Pride and Prejudice (Geva Theatre Center); The Glass Menagerie (Two River Theater Company); Murder On The Nile (Dorset Theatre Festival); As You Like It (Weston Playhouse Theatre Company); Babette’s Feast (Threads Theater Company); Sherlock Holmes, The Early Years (New York Musical Theatre Festival); All’s Well That Ends Well (Theatre for a New Audience); The Dinner Party (Lincoln Center Institute); Mary Stuart (New York Classical Theatre); The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere (Theatreworks USA); and The Tempest and The Picture of Dorian Gray (Sonnet Repertory Theatre). His TV and film credits include Manhattan Love Story, MA, Smash, Not Fade Away, Gossip Girl, Law & Order, and Guiding Light. William received his BFA from University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

William Connell

Brad Culver* · Alan

Brad is excited to be working at Berkeley Rep for the first time. His recent theatre credits include Edward in The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Templeton in Charlotte’s Web (South Coast Repertory), Dionysus in Satyr Atlas (the Getty Villa), The Black Glass (Ballhaus Ost in Berlin), Present Tense (The Big Show Co./Oberlin Dance Collective), and The Internationalists (Istrian National Theatre in Croatia & Belgrade International Theatre Festival in Serbia). In film and television, some of Brad’s credits include Extracted (Official Selection: South by Southwest Film Festival), Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, Animal Planet’s Lost Tapes, Dead in the Room (produced by Slamdance Film Festival), and A Lonely Place for Dying (featuring James Cromwell). Brad is a founding member of LA-based theatre collective Poor Dog Group. He received his BFA in Theatre from California Institute of the Arts.

Brad Culver

Dan Donohue* · Francis Henshall

Dan has been a fixture at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival since 1994, performing in more than 30 productions in such roles as Hamlet, Mercutio, Caliban, Iago, Henry V, Dvornichek (in Rough Crossing), and, most recently, Richard III. On Broadway, Dan was Scar in The Lion King. Other credits include Truffaldino in Servant of Two Masters (Intiman Theatre), The Night Alive (the Geffen Playhouse), The Triumph of Love (Long Wharf Theatre), The Game of Love and Chance (Seattle Repertory Theatre), Vincent in Inventing Van Gogh (Arizona Theatre Company), and roles at Portland Center Stage, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and elsewhere. Dan was an inaugural recipient of the Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship and a 2012 Grammy Award nominee (Best Spoken Word for Hamlet). His television and film credits include Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Mentalist, Shameless, Return to Zero, Water & Power, and The Closer. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

Dan Donohue

John-David Keller* · Harry Dangle

This is John-David’s first production with Berkeley Rep. He has spent the last 42 years as an actor and director with South Coast Repertory. Prior to coming to South Coast Rep he performed in New York in productions of Misalliance; Rainbow Jones, a musical; and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard on Broadway and in the national tour. John-David was brought up and educated in San Francisco. He made his first stage appearance at the age of eight singing with the San Francisco Boy’s Opera Chorus. He was one of the first 20 boys in San Francisco to have this opportunity. In college he did his apprentice work with the San Francisco Actor’s Workshop under the direction of Jules Irving and Herbert Blau. He has been away from San Francisco for a long time and feels this wonderful production is like a coming-home present.

John-David Keller

Becca Lustgarten · Ensemble

Becca last appeared at Berkeley Rep in Molière’s Tartuffe. Her recent credits include Tartuffe and Death of a Salesman (South Coast Repertory). Her other favorite credits include Three Sisters at Williamstown Theatre Festival, directed by Michael Greif; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Hangar Theatre, directed by Kevin Moriarty; and a number of new plays developed and produced by the Actors Studio (NYC) and Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts. She received her BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University and studied at the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy. In addition to her theatrical work, Becca is a writer and musician.

Becca Lustgarten

Gerry McIntyre* · Lloyd Boateng / Musical Staging / Dance Captain

Gerry’s Broadway credits include Uptown It’s Hot, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Once on This Island (original company), Anything Goes, and Chicago. His off-Broadway credits include Enter Laughing (Drama Desk nomination), The Audience (Drama Desk nomination), and Forbidden Broadway (NAACP and Ovation Awards). Gerry has been seen on TV in Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order, Whoopi, Jamie Foxx, NYPD Blue, Caroline in the City, The Nanny, The Pretender, and Murphy Brown. His film credits include The Kiss, Broadway Damage, The Next Step, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and After the Storm. Gerry is the winner of a Theatre Bay Area Award and a San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Award for his choreography. Please visit gerrymcintyre.net.

Gerry McIntyre

Sarah Moser* · Pauline

Sarah is thrilled to return to Berkeley Rep where she was last seen in You, Nero. Her recent credits include The Great Pretender and Time Stands Still (TheatreWorks), The Lily’s Revenge (Magic Theatre), The Coast of Utopia and Edward Gant’s Amazing Feats of Loneliness (Shotgun Players), A Maze and In From the Cold (Just Theater), Eurydice (Palo Alto Players), StoryWorks (Tides Theatre), In the Next Room (or the vibrator play) and Hamlet (City Lights Theatre Company), and Almost, Maine (California Conservatory Theatre). Sarah holds a BA from Stanford University and has trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She is a proud recipient of the 2014–15 Theatre Bay Area Titan Award for Acting and is a company member at Just Theater.

Sarah Moser

Todd Pivetti · Ensemble

Todd last appeared at Berkeley Rep in Molière’s Tartuffe. He has recently appeared in The Balcony with Collected Works at the Mint in San Francisco, Cock at the New Conservatory Theatre Center, The Speakeasy with Boxcar Theatre, Threepenny Opera with San Jose Stage Company, Julius Caesar (tour) with the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Imaginary Invalid with Pacific Repertory Theatre, Twelfth Night and The Mandrake at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and he played Peer Gynt in Peer Gynt at UC Santa Cruz as his master’s thesis. Todd has also done numerous readings and workshops with Playwrights Foundation, Crowded Fire Theater, and the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco.

Todd Pivetti

Daniel Redmond · Ensemble

Daniel was an understudy in Troublemaker, or the Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright at Berkeley Rep. His other credits include The Homosexuals and My Beautiful Laundrette (New Conservatory Theatre Center), Buffalo’ed (San Jose Stage Company), A Taste of Honey (Virago Theatre, San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nominee), The Embassy (Central Works), Macbeth (Shakespeare’s Associates), Harper Regan (SF Playhouse), Owners (AlterTheater), Aladdin (the Old Vic), Mother Clap’s Molly House (the Royal National Theatre), The People Next Door (Traverse Theatre Edinburgh, Broadway and European tours), Jack And The Beanstalk (Oxford Playhouse), La Cava (Victoria Palace/Piccadilly Theatre), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Battersea Arts Centre), and Brighton Beach Scumbags (Brockley Jack Theatre). He has been seen in Red Tails (Lucas Films). Daniel holds a master’s in Theatre.

Daniel Redmond

Helen Sadler* · Rachel

Helen makes her debut performance at Berkeley Rep. Regional credits include The Night Alive and Tribes (Steppenwolf Theatre Company); The Whale (South Coast Repertory); Cymbeline (A Noise Within); Sense and Sensibility (Actors Theatre of Louisville and Northlight Theatre); The Maids (Writers Theatre); Blasted (A Red Orchid Theatre); Buried Child, A Taste of Honey, and Hyde in Hollywood (Shattered Globe Theatre); War (Seanachai Theatre Company); Feydeau-Si-Deau (Theater Wit); and Radiance (the Geffen Playhouse). TV credits include Revenge and True Blood. Film credits include Thrill Ride, Too Late, Contagion, All the Marbles, Cass, Heavy, The Coldest Winter, Wednesday’s Child, Credits, Keen, and Hush Your Mouth. Voice credits include Game of Thrones, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and The Elder Scrolls. Helen received her BA from University of Bristol and trained at the Poor School, London.

Helen Sadler

Danny Scheie* · Gareth

Danny previously appeared at Berkeley Rep in the world premiere of Charles Mee’s Fêtes de la Nuit directed by Les Waters; as Nero in Amy Freed’s You, Nero, for which he won the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle Award for leading actor (he also played it at South Coast Repertory and Arena Stage); in Cloud Nine directed by Tony Taccone (also at Trinity Repertory Company); and as Sturgis Drang in Troublemaker, or the Freakin Kick-A Adventures of Bradley Boatright. He performed for 13 seasons with both Shakespeare Santa Cruz (including as artistic director) and California Shakespeare Theater (for which he most recently received the Theatre Bay Area Award for leading actor as Dromio of Ephesus and Dromio of Syracuse), and has also acted at the Old Globe in San Diego, Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Folger Theatre, Asolo Repertory Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse, A Noise Within, Two River Theater Company, Yale Repertory Theatre, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Aurora Theatre Company, TheatreWorks, Magic Theatre, the Marsh, Marin Theatre Company, San Jose Repertory Theatre, and Theatre Rhinoceros. He holds a BA from Indiana University and a PhD from UC Berkeley.

Danny Scheie

Steven Shear · Ensemble

Steven is thrilled to return to Berkeley Rep, having previously understudied for Pericles, Prince of Tyre, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. Bay Area credits include the title role of Mr. Irresistible at the Alcazar Theatre; Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Boxcar Theatre; Promises, Promises at San Francisco Playhouse; Avenue Q at Summer Repertory Theatre; and Legally Blonde at Spreckels Performing Arts Center. He has toured with two Bay Area Children’s Theatre world premiere musicals: The Gold Rush Play and Tales of Olympus, and received a Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle nomination for Best Choreography for his work on San Francisco Playhouse’s production of Camelot. Regionally, he has performed with Jenny Wiley Theatre and Texas Family Musicals. Steven’s film and television credits include the upcoming feature America Is Still the Place and Discovery Channel’s I (Almost) Got Away with It. Steven hold a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts CAP21 and studied at the International Theatre Workshop in Amsterdam, NL. For more about Steven, please visit steven-shear.com.

Steven Shear

Robert Sicular* · Charlie Clench

Robert is delighted to be returning to Berkeley Rep, having appeared in many shows here over the years, including a season at the Theatre’s original home on College Avenue. He has also performed locally with American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, TheatreWorks, Center Rep, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, and California Shakespeare Theater. Other theatres include the Denver Center Theatre Company; South Coast Repertory; Seattle Repertory Theatre; the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Actors Theatre of Louisville; Sacramento Theatre Company; the Colorado, Lake Tahoe, and Santa Fe Shakespeare Festivals; the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC; and for eight seasons, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. Screen credits include General Hospital and The Young and the Restless, the sci-fi comedy thriller Never Die Twice, the Bollywood potboiler Dil Pardesi Ho Gayaa, and the role of Dad in Josh Kornbluth’s upcoming Love and Taxes. He also stars in the podcast series Dr. Dark Presents (drdarkpresents.com). Robert attended the University of California at Berkeley and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Robert Sicular

Claire Warden* · Dolly

Claire makes her debut performance at Berkeley Rep. Her off-Broadway credits include Charlotte Payne-Townsend in Engaging Shaw (Abingdon Theatre Company) and Molly Luscombe/Mrs. Will in The Libertine (Kirk Theatre). Other New York and regional credits include Brooke in Other Desert Cities, Josie in A Moon for the Misbegotten, Mary in Mary Stuart, Bella in Lost in Yonkers, Titania/Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet. Her UK credits include Hecuba in The Trojan Women, Narrator in Women of the Sidhe, and Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Claire has starred in the films Freedom Fighter, The Factory, and Departure and in the TV documentary Jack the Ripper—An Ongoing Mystery for the Discovery Channel. You can also hear her as the voice of the Open Technology Fund Website. She has a BA Honours degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from the University of Birmingham, UK. Claire is the Director of Education for the Shakespeare Forum in New York City and co-runs the ambassador program for the Shakespeare Society. Please visit clairewarden.com.

Claire Warden

Casey Hurt · Lead Vocals & Guitar

Casey has spent most of his life as a performer. At an early age he was singing and playing guitar in bars and coffee shops. Since then he has toured North America and Europe playing his original music. In addition to being a performer, Casey is also a playwright and composer. His most recent musical The Unfortunates had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and will move to American Conservatory Theater in the spring of 2016. As a recording artist, Casey’s music has been featured on television shows such as Criminal Minds, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill, and many others. To find out more, visit caseyhurt.com.

Casey Hurt

Mike McGraw · Lead Guitar

Mike hails from the LA rock scene and is very excited to be a part of One Man, Two Guvnors. Born and raised in the Southern California suburbs, Mike began playing guitar for a local band that got him gigging on the Sunset Strip at a young age. He has found a home with the Brian Buckley Band, with which he has had the opportunity to work with producer Mark Howard (Bob Dylan, U2) and is very excited for where they are headed. In addition to his band life, he continues to work as a session and touring guitarist with TV credits including ABC’s Reaper and CBS’ Criminal Minds. He is endorsed by Vemuram Custom Pedals, XTS, Wilson Effects, and Xotic Effects. Mike and his wife, Jessie, who’s a professional dancer, enjoy a busy and rich artistic life that they love.

Mike McGraw

Marcus Högsta · Bass

With bass guitar as his primary instrument, Marcus writes, performs, and records music of varying styles with a number of Los Angeles-based bands. He frequently performs at Los Angeles and San Diego venues, including the Troubadour, the Roxy, the Satellite, House of Blues, and Bootleg Theater. Marcus is a recent graduate of USC’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Marcus Högsta

Andrew Niven · Percussion & Drums

Born and raised in Palo Alto, Andrew began his musical endeavors studying piano at age seven. After experimenting with guitar and bass he became infatuated with the drum set after listening to his father’s old jazz records. Andrew studied marimba and orchestral percussion music with renowned percussionist and composer Dr. Eugene Novotney at Humboldt State University. He transferred to California Institute of the Arts, where he studied with jazz greats Joe LaBarbera, Charlie Haden, Alphonso Johnson, and David Roitstein, and studied Latin percussion with Aaron Serfaty. He also became involved in the institute’s Balinese gamelan program and played drums with the master guitarist Miroslav Tadić, exploring the traditional music of Bulgaria and Macedonia. After graduation Andrew worked as a drummer for six years in LA, touring with the classic psychedelic rock group the Magic Band and working with Casey Hurt, Persian singer Sepideh, Balkan-fusion outfit Zaub Nasty, Ghostlight Orchestra, and many others. In 2014 Andrew returned to the Bay Area and has been recording and performing with the Miles Schon Group, Tony Saunders, and Vela Eyes, among others. This is his first performance with Berkeley Rep.

Andrew Niven

Richard Bean · Playwright

Richard was born in East Hull in 1956. After school, he worked in a bread plant before leaving to study psychology at Loughborough University. Richard has worked as a psychologist and a stand-up comedian. He was awarded the 2011 Evening Standard Award for Best Play for The Heretic and One Man, Two Guvnors, and the 2011 Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play and 2012 Whatsonstage.com Award for Best New Comedy, both for One Man, Two Guvnors. He received Pearson Play of the Year for Honeymoon Suite and the George Devine Award for Under the Whaleback. His England People Very Nice (National Theatre) was an Olivier Award nominee for Best New Play, and his Up on Roof (Hull Truck Theatre) was nominated for TMA Play of the Year. His other work includes a stage version of David Mamet’s The House of Games (Almeida Theatre), The Big Fellah (produced by Out of Joint), Pub Quiz Is Life (Hull Truck), The English Game (produced by Headlong), In The Club (Hampstead Theatre), a version of Molière’s The Hypochondriac (Almeida); Toast (the Royal Court); The God Botherers (Bush Theatre), Smack Family Robinson (Newcastle Live!), The Mentalists (Lyttelton Loft, National Theatre), and Mr England (Sheffield Crucible Theatre). His radio plays include “Of Rats and Men,” “Yesterday,” “Unsinkable,” and “Robin Hood’s Revenge.”

Grant Olding · Songwriter

Grant trained as an actor at the Central School of Speech and Drama before turning to music when the Bridewell Theatre created the post of composer in residence for him in 2003. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2012 for Best Original Score for the Broadway production of One Man, Two Guvnors and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Score for the same production. His other play scores include Timon of Athens, Travelling Light, England People Very Nice, The Man of Mode, The Alchemist, and Southwark Fair (all at the National Theatre, directed by Nicholas Hytner); James and The Giant Peach (Birmingham Old Rep Theatre and UK tour); Broken Glass (Tricycle Theatre and the Vaudeville Theatre); Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Theatre Royal Haymarket); and many others. Grant’s musical theatre scores include Robin Hood (The Castle, Wellingborough), Simply Cinderella (Curve Theatre, Leicester), Tracy Beaker Gets Real (Nottingham Playhouse and UK tour), Yeti: An Abominamusical (Edinburgh Fringe), Spittin’ Distance (Stephen Joseph Theatre and National Theatre Studio), and others. His TV and film scores include The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff (BBC 2), Theatreland (Sky Arts, six-part documentary series), and Losing the Plot (Bongo Reef Pictures, short film), as well as a viral musical video for Lastminute.com which won the Cannes Lions Award for best viral. His songs have featured on the albums of Gemma Atkins, Annalene Beechey, Caroline Sheen and Stuart Matthew Price, and the One Man, Two Guvnors original cast album (on which Grant performs nine of the 12 songs) has been released by the National Theatre in the UK and by DRG Records in the USA. Grant is a board member for Mercury Musicals Development.

David Ivers · Director

David is in his fifth season as artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, where he has been creating productions as director/actor since 1992. In recent seasons, he has directed Twelfth Night, Twelve Angry Men, Romeo and Juliet, Cyrano De Bergerac, and others. Additionally, he spent 10 years as a resident artist with the Denver Center Theatre Company, collaborating on over 40 productions as director/actor. Also, David helmed The Taming of the Shrew and a premiere adaptation of The Cocoanuts for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Other regional work includes productions at Pioneer Theatre Company, Nevada Conservatory Theatre, the Alabama and Idaho Shakespeare Festivals, Portland Center Stage, Portland Rep, Artists Repertory Theatre, and Tacoma Actors Guild. David’s upcoming projects include productions at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, and the Guthrie Theater. He is thrilled to be making his Berkeley Rep debut with One Man, Two Guvnors.

Gregg Coffin · Music Director

Gregg has composed, directed, arranged, or orchestrated the music for productions in theatres throughout the U.S., Canada, China, and South Korea, including the Minetta Lane Theatre, the Duke on 42nd Street, the John Houseman Theatre (off Broadway), the Chungmu Art Hall (Seoul), the Stratford Festival in Canada, the National Arts Centre in Canada, Canadian Stage, Tarragon Theatre (Canada), Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, Pioneer Theatre Company, Indiana Repertory Theatre, Unicorn Theatre, the Human Race Theatre Company, and the Oregon, Utah, Santa Cruz, Alabama, California, Santa Fe, Georgia, Great River, and St. Louis Shakespeare Festivals. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, Inc.; the Game Audio Network Guild; the American Federation of Musicians Local 12; and Actors’ Equity Association.

Hugh Landwehr · Scenic Design

One Man, Two Guvnors is Hugh’s first collaboration with Berkeley Rep. His work on Broadway has included productions of Frozen, Bus Stop, All My Sons, and A View from the Bridge. Off Broadway, he has designed Last Easter, Scattergood, Filumena, and The Baby Dance, among others. He has designed at many regional theatres, including the Alley Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival. During the summer, he has designed at the Berkshire Theatre Festival and the Williamstown Theatre Festival. He is presently a member of the faculty of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, and has taught at the North Carolina School of the Arts and Williams College. He is proud to have twice been an NEA Associate Artist, to have won the Murphy Award in Design (administered by Long Wharf), and to be the 2003 winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Set Design. He was educated at Yale College.

Meg Neville · Costume Design

Meg’s recent Berkeley Rep credits include Party People, Tribes, The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures, and X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story). She also worked on Pericles, Prince of Tyre; Ghost Light; In the Wake; Yellowjackets; Eurydice; TRAGEDY: a tragedy; Suddenly Last Summer; Dinner with Friends; Closer; and The Life of Galileo. Her recent and upcoming productions at Oregon Shakespeare Festival include Long Day’s Journey Into Night (2015), The Cocoanuts (2014), Taming of the Shrew (2013), and Ghost Light (2011). Meg is an associate artist with California Shakespeare Theater, where she has designed numerous productions including Lady Windermere’s Fan, An Ideal Husband, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, and lots of Shakespeare. Other Bay Area theatre credits include Marin Theatre Company, the Cutting Ball Theater, American Conservatory Theater, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Joe Goode Performance Group, and Magic Theatre. She has also worked at Second Stage Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, South Coast Repertory, Atlantic Theater Company, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Chicago Opera Theater, NY Stage and Film, Hartford Stage, Kirk Douglas Theatre, Portland Stage Company, and Dallas Theater Center. Meg is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Brown University and resides in San Francisco with her husband and three children.

Alexander V. Nichols · Lighting Design

Alex is returning to Berkeley Rep for his 31st production. His Broadway credits include Wishful Drinking, Hugh Jackman—Back On Broadway, and Nice Work If You Can Get It. His off-Broadway productions include In Masks Outrageous and Austere, Los Big Names, Horizon, Bridge & Tunnel, Taking Over, Through the Night, and In the Wake. Alex has worked at regional theatres throughout the country, including American Conservatory Theater, Mark Taper Forum, National Theatre of Taiwan, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and La Jolla Playhouse, among others. His dance credits include resident designer for Pennsylvania Ballet, Hartford Ballet, and American Repertory Ballet; lighting supervisor for American Ballet Theatre; and resident visual designer for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company since 1989. His designs are in the permanent repertory of San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hubbard Street Dance, Hong Kong Ballet, Singapore Dance Theatre, ODC/SF, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Alex’s recent projects include the museum installation Circle of Memory, a collaboration with Eleanor Coppola, recently presented in Stockholm, Sweden, and the video and visual design for Life: A Journey Through Time, a collaboration with Frans Lanting and Philip Glass, recently presented at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam.

Lindsay Jones · Sound Design

Lindsay designed and composed for the Broadway productions of Bronx Bombers and A Time to Kill. His off-Broadway credits include Bootycandy (Playwrights Horizons), Mr. Joy (LCT3), Wild with Happy (the Public Theater), Top Secret (New York Theatre Workshop), Rx (Primary Stages), and many others. His regional credits include the Guthrie Theater, Hartford Stage, the Alliance Theatre, the Goodman Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, Arena Stage, and many others. His international work includes Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada and Royal Shakespeare Company in England. He has received seven Joseph Jefferson Awards and 21 nominations, two Ovation Awards and three nominations, a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, as well as three Drama Desk Award nominations, two Helen Hayes Award nominations, and many others. His film scoring credits include Magnolia Pictures’ The Brass Teapot and HBO Films’ A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin (2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary, Short Subject). Please visit lindsayjones.com.

Amy Potozkin, CSA · Casting

This is Amy’s 25th season at Berkeley Rep, and she was recently nominated for an Artios Award for Excellence in Casting for The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures. Through the years she has also had the pleasure of casting plays for ACT (Seattle), Arizona Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre Company, B Street Theatre, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, Dallas Theater Center, Marin Theatre Company, the Marsh, San Jose Repertory Theatre, Social Impact Productions Inc., and Traveling Jewish Theatre. Amy cast roles for various indie films, including Conceiving Ada, starring Tilda Swinton; Haiku Tunnel and Love & Taxes, both by Josh Kornbluth; and Beyond Redemption by Britta Sjogren. Amy received her MFA from Brandeis University, where she was also an artist in residence. She has been a coach to hundreds of actors, has taught acting at Mills College and audition technique at Berkeley Rep’s School of Theatre, and has led workshops at numerous other venues in the Bay Area. Prior to working at Berkeley Rep, she was an intern at Playwrights Horizons in New York. Amy is a member of CSA, the Casting Society of America.

Joanne DeNaut, CSA · Casting

Joanne is the full-time casting director for South Coast Repertory, casting over 175 productions in addition to all readings and workshops, including NewSCRipts and SCR’s annual Pacific Playwright’s Festival. Other work includes casting for Center Theatre Group, Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and La Jolla Playhouse. She also casts for the University of Southern California’s MFA New Works Festival. Film credits include work with Octavio Solis, Juliette Carrillo, Mark Rucker, and the American Film Institute. Joanne teaches auditioning for both SCR’s Intensive Acting Program and Saddleback Community College. She received her BA from the University of California, Irvine. As a member of the Casting Society of America, Joanne was the recipient of four Artios nominations and an Artios Award for Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.

Michael Suenkel* · Stage Manager

Michael began his association with Berkeley Rep as the stage management intern for the 1984–85 season and is now in his 21st year as production stage manager. Some of his favorite shows include 36 Views, Endgame, Eurydice, Hydriotaphia, and Mad Forest. He has also worked with the Barbican in London, the Huntington Theatre Company, the Juste Pour Rire Festival in Montreal, La Jolla Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Public Theater and Second Stage Theater in New York, and Yale Repertory Theatre. For the Magic Theatre, he stage managed Albert Takazauckas’ Breaking the Code and Sam Shepard’s The Late Henry Moss.

Karen Szpaller* · Assistant Stage Manager

Karen is thrilled to be back for her 12th season at Berkeley Rep. Her favorite past Berkeley Rep productions include Tribes, The Wild Bride, The Lieutenant of Inishmore, Eurydice, Fêtes de la Nuit, Comedy on the Bridge/Brundibar, Compulsion, and Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West. Her favorites elsewhere include The Comedy of Errors and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at California Shakespeare Theater; Anne Patterson’s art and theatrical installation Seeing the Voice: State of Grace and Anna Deavere Smith’s On Grace, both at Grace Cathedral; the national tour of Spamalot in San Francisco; A Christmas Carol (2006–14), Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City, 1776, Stuck Elevator, Blackbird, Curse of the Starving Class, and The Tosca Project at American Conservatory Theater; Wild With Happy, Striking 12, and Wheelhouse at TheatreWorks; Ragtime and She Loves Me at Foothill Music Theatre; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at San Jose Repertory Theatre; Salomé at Aurora Theatre Company; and Urinetown: The Musical at San Jose Stage Company. Karen is the production coordinator at TheatreWorks.

South Coast Repertory · Co-Producer

Tony Award-winning South Coast Repertory, founded in 1964 by David Emmes and Martin Benson and now under the leadership of Artistic Director Marc Masterson and Managing Director Paula Tomei, is widely recognized as one of the leading professional theatres in the United States. While its productions represent a balance of classic and modern theatre, SCR is renowned for its extensive new-play development program, which includes the nation’s largest commissioning program for emerging and established writers. Of SCR’s 487 productions, one-quarter have been world premieres. SCR-developed works have garnered two Pulitzer Prizes and eight Pulitzer nominations, several Obie Awards and scores of major new play awards. Located in Costa Mesa, California, SCR is home to the 507-seat Segerstrom Stage, the 336-seat Julianne Argyros Stage, and the 94-seat Nicholas Studio. Visit scr.org.

Additional credits

Rob Salas · Assistant Director
Anshuman Bhatia · Assistant to the Scenic Designer
Lynne Soffer · Dialect Coach
Dave Maier · Fight Director

* Indicates a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Leaping man“The skiffle band music is so joyous that you’re smiling before the comedy at Berkeley Rep even begins. The farce that follows, Richard Bean’s madcap One Man, Two Guvnors, is a near fail-safe recipe for hilarity. Best of all, the entire cast, under the scintillating direction of David Ivers, keeps the theater rocking with laughter for more than two hours. It’s a triumph…an anything-goes combination of high, low and just plain bad-taste humor executed with pinpoint precision and a generous looseness. Dan Donohue embodies all those approaches in a full-scale expect-the-unexpected performance as the servant of two masters…Donohue fills the role as if born to it…But he’s supported by such a deft and nimbly comic ensemble that it’s impossible to give due credit to all…”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Oh, if only all adaptations could be this fun. When playwright Richard Bean decided to pull Carlo Goldoni’s 18th-century comedy into a specific time and place in the 20th century—Brighton, England, 1963—he did so with an eye to heightening and broadening the comedy from its Venetian origins…At the center of the party is Oregon Shakespeare Festival staple Dan Donohue as Francis, the hungry clown who finds himself working for two masters…Donohue is part Conan O’Brien (the ginger part), part Peter Sellers, part VW full of circus clowns (all of them). He’s adept at the physical comedy…but he’s also a wonderful actor and makes Francis endearing in his stupidity and hunger…Though Donohue offers a dynamic star turn, he’s really part of an intricate, carefully calibrated comedy machine. The whole cast…works effectively as a team to bust guts and keep the momentum rolling to the clap-along, sing-along ending.”—Theater Dogs

“Ingenious…Unlike many farces, this one is also verbally funny. Bean’s script is full of good gags…The show, in short, is a tonic which confirms Eric Bentley’s point that farce is the quintessence of theatre and which combines a tightly-written text with the gaiety of popular entertainment. I suspect you would had to have had a humour by-pass not to enjoy it.”—London Guardian

“[An] inspired adaptation…The language is fueled by a logic that is as irrefutable as it is silly…It gleefully skewers the tortured metaphors of lovers’ flights of fancy and traffics unapologetically in the childish, tongue-twisting pleasures of alliteration.”—New York Times

“Carlo Goldoni’s commedia dell’arte classic, The Servant of Two Masters, gets a ditsy spin in this smash hit English adaptation of the 18th-century rib tickler…This lively take on Guvnors is thoroughly amusing…a loopy homage to pratfalls that ricochet from giggles to groans with zany panache…Doors are slammed, identities mistaken and wits scrambled in this full-throttle knee slapper…The most hysterical bits are usually [Dan] Donohue’s ad-libs, and there are some delectable rounds of audience participation…Suffice to say that there’s a rollicking sense of fun from start to finish…[Director David] Ivers…makes sure the production matches the energy and verve of the onstage skiffle band, a Fab Four facsimile…Perhaps the most effective musical number is the closing song, in which each character regales us with a part of the story we’ve just seen. Not that the plot or theme matters a whit in this goofy fable. The laugh’s the thing here.”—San Jose Mercury News / Bay Area News Group

“The entire theatrical patchwork quilt—and 15-member acting ensemble—made me grin, smile, chortle and laugh—from beginning to end…as Francis Henshall, [Dan Donohue]’s what I’ll describe as a farce of nature. He’s as skilled, exquisitely timed and rubber-bodied a clown as Pickle Family grads Bill Irwin or Geoff Hoyle, which is high praise indeed.”—Marinscope

“Berkeley Rep in a co-production with South Coast Repertory Theatre closes out their 2014–2015 season with an unqualified hit of Richard Bean’s adaptation of Carlo Goldini’s 17th century masterful farce The Servant of Two Masters. Every creative aspect of what makes theatre great is on display…Every one of those actors earn accolades, along with the star of the show Dan Donohue whose mobile body, expressive face and perfect comedic timing are hilarious and a joy to watch. It is certain that parts of those routines are aided by the fantastic direction of David Ivers, keeping the nonstop action in sync with the hysterical entrance and exits needed for farce with the obligatory slamming of doors and pratfalls.”—For All Events

“Gut-busting…Amusing original songs by Grant Olding suggest the legacy of British music hall, and cast members take part during scene changes in variety-act interludes, providing accompaniment on xylophone, kettle drums, claxons…while at the same time evoking the unmistakable feel of early ‘60s England.”—Hollywood Reporter

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Prologue: from the Artistic Director

There are many theories of comedy, all of them fantastically un-funny. There’s the Relief Theory, the Superiority Theory, and the Incongruity Theory. There are theories based on sexual selection, mistaken reasoning, misattribution, and benign violation. You can probably figure those out just from the titles. But then there’s the Computational-Neural Theory, which I recommend as a sleep aid, and my personal favorite, the Ontic-Epistemic Theory, which sounds like a medical procedure related to colon cancer. One thing is clear: many people have tried to explain why we laugh.

It’s a tough one to figure out, precisely because we laugh a lot, for different reasons, about lots of stuff. When you watch a group of people at a comedy, for example, it’s fascinating to see their reactions. What one person finds hilarious, another finds dull. One person is giddy, another insulted. One delirious, another miserable. Comedies are controversial because laughter provides an index of our values; it reveals a deep part of who we are as individuals, families, communities, and countries. And as often as we share a laugh, laughter can also divide us.

So it is a rare thing indeed when a comedy comes close to universal acclaim. Such is the case with The Servant of Two Masters, written in 1743 by Carlo Goldoni. Using a staple of comic characters inherited from commedia dell’arte, the play uses relief, incongruity, superiority, mistaken reasoning, sexual selection, misattribution, and not-so-benign violation to provide Big Relief and even bigger laughs. It’s been translated countless times, adapted for film, and transposed to many different historical periods, most recently by Richard Bean for the National Theatre of England. Hence, One Man, Two Guvnors, set in 1963 in Brighton, a declining seaside town filled with a raucous array of con-men, servants, nitwits, and lovers. They’re all thrown together in a chaotic comic dance, set to the music of a skiffle band with decidedly rock-and-roll tendencies.

Of course, you need the right creative team to unlock the joy of the play. It gives me the greatest pleasure to introduce director David Ivers to you, a gifted maestro whose brains are big and whose pockets are lined with lazzi. Along with his longtime friend and collaborator, the astonishing Dan Donohue, and a large ensemble of co-conspirators, we bring you the grand chaos of Goldoni’s masterpiece, re-imagined for our time. I don’t know if it will validate the Ontic-Epistemic Theory of Humor, but I have a hunch that it will be greatly entertaining.

Sincerely,

Tony Taccone

Prologue: from the Managing Director

Is there anything better than a good endorphin-inducing belly laugh? It is right up there at the top of my “must have” list. One of the great pleasures of being human has got to be that absolutely satisfying experience of laughing so hard that all your muscles get a workout! And we think that is just what David Ivers and his team have concocted for you tonight.

This has been a season that has taken you from the bittersweet melancholy of An Audience with Meow Meow, through the activism of Party People, the wry wit of Molly Ivins, the urgency of X’s and O’s (A Football Love Story), the profound cynicism of Tartuffe, and then the deep tragedy of Head of Passes. And now we just want you to exhale and enjoy the unrelenting inventiveness of this classic turned upside-down. It is our end-of-season gift to you.

Although it is, technically, the end of the season, we do have one more treat in store for you. Anna Deavere Smith, a woman who always seems to have her finger on the pulse of America, is coming back this July for just a three-week run. Anna’s new piece, Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education, will premiere here at the Roda Theatre. (This is a special presentation and not part of the 2014–15 subscription season, so call the box office to reserve your seats.) Anna has been exploring the pipeline from school to prison for a few years now. She’s been interviewing educators, judges, people from corrections, and all the myriad players who have something to say about the systems we’ve created that have contributed to our astronomically high rates of incarceration. She has explored the lost generation of men and boys (and girls, too) who have ended up in our prisons rather than in our schools, and she has brought her considerable powers of insight and observation together for this new piece.

We don’t want you to miss her new work. Anna has given us some of the most memorable evenings in our theatre: the aftermath of the Crown Heights riots in Fires in the Mirror; ruminations on race relations in Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; her meditation on health and mortality in Let Me Down Easy. With Notes from the Field: Doing Time in Education she brings her fierce curiosity and virtuosic skills back here for this very special event.

I’m looking forward to seeing you one more time this summer.

Warmly,

Susan Medak

Under the boardwalk

By Julie McCormick

Carlo Goldoni’s comedic masterpiece The Servant of Two Masters has delighted audiences with its twists and turns, cases of mistaken identity, and no-holds-barred slapstick since its first performance in 1743. Richard Bean’s One Man, Two Guvnors updates and reimagines the main events of this story from Goldoni’s 18th-century Venice to 1963 Brighton, England. It’s a surprisingly appropriate move—there’s more in common between 18th-century Venice and 1960s Brighton than one might think.

The island city of Venice, “The Queen of the Adriatic,” perches atop the waves just off of mainland Italy. By the second half of the 1700s, Venice’s glory days as a thousand-year-old republic and international trading hub were coming to an end, but it was already the bustling tourist destination we know it to be today. The romance of crumbling palazzos, glittering gambling salons, winding canals, and Carnival drew in travelers from far and wide looking to escape from the tightly regulated social hierarchies of daily life.

For much of its history, the seaside town of Brighton has also been an escape from the grind of reality. Since the early days this erstwhile fishing village has been a point of embarkation between Britain and the Continent for both business and pleasure. In the 18th-century, popular wisdom espoused the salutary powers of sea air, and tourists flocked from around the country to take in the briny breezes and soak in newly opened spas. When the railway between London and Brighton opened in the 1840s, day-trippers from the big city poured into the seaside town on sunny days, and the regular population boomed.

Just as the idea of Venice is inextricably linked with the masks of Carnival, nothing captures the spirit of Brighton in all of its sandy, cotton-candy glory more than the glittering Palace Pier. Spindly pylons race down the sand and skip through the surf, jutting out 1760 feet into the waters of the English Channel. The pier sits on top like a magnificent birthday cake: its soaring confectionary Victorian architecture gleams a bright white against the waves and sky.

The first pier at Brighton Beach was built in 1823 and used primarily for off-loading passenger ships from France. The owners encouraged stalls featuring snacks, souvenirs, and portrait artists to set up along the boardwalk and began charging admission. A series of bad storms eventually damaged the pier beyond repair, and in 1889, the Brighton Marine Palace & Pier Company bought out the old pier and began construction on a new one. The company spared no expense for the grandest entertainment and most cutting-edge technology. A concert hall, theatre, bandstand, and pavilions for eating and smoking sat along the boardwalk and were lit at night with 3,000 lightbulbs, a newly available invention. Some of these constructions, like the bandstand and the elegant iron and steel arches at the entrance of the pier, remain standing today.

By the 1960s, however, some of the shine on the Palace Pier had faded. Sections that were shut down during World War II for fear of invasion had fallen into disrepair. Many of the same games that had been up since the turn of the century were still there—these weren’t replaced with more modern arcade games until the 1970s. Major structural and aesthetic renovations were still decades off, so by 1963, the pier had become a bit dilapidated and slightly seedy.

The piers at Brighton Beach have always been a place where all sorts would meet, play, relax, and sometimes clash: tourists and townies, old and young, rich and poor, English and foreign. In 1964, the year after One Man, Two Guvnors is set, this came to a head in the battle between the mods and rockers, two youth gangs out of London. The mods rode mopeds, wore skinny designer suits, and listened to skiffle. The rockers revved their motorcycles straight out of a James Dean movie, leather jackets and all. Thousands of teenagers brawled on the waterfront, upsetting sand castles and picnic baskets until police hauled them away. In some ways, their summer battles were symbolic of greater cultural changes yet to come.

So many of our greatest stories and biggest laughs arise out of the moment where one unexpected thing runs into another. Alien meets earthling, high meets low, pie meets face. In Goldoni’s Venice and Richard Bean’s Brighton, where the land meets the sea, one era meets another, and the corny and magnificent collide, a sense of holiday abandon rules the day. Anyone might be there, and anything is possible.

Skifflemania

By Julie McCormick

Before Beatlemania swept the land, there was skiffle. A type of music that blends elements of folk, blues, country, and jazz, skiffle is largely played on homemade or improvised instruments and inspires the score for this show. Skiffle rose from the same rich, musical soup that exhaled blues, jazz, gospel, and the precursors to swing, rock, and funk, and was first played by informal jug bands in the early 20th century American South. These “country blues” ensembles blew into and slapped glass or stoneware jugs to create bass lines and rubbed washboards to keep time. Guitars, banjos, and fiddles harmonized with spoons, kazoos made out of a comb and a piece of paper, and whatever else musicians could find in their kitchens and junk drawers.

The origin of the name is a bit of a mystery, although it’s certainly onomatopoeic. Both “skiffle” and “boogie” were slang for rent parties in the 1920s, where musicians passed the hat at house parties to help “make the rent.” The first recordings of skiffle were made in Chicago in 1925, with Jimmy O’Bryant and his Chicago Skifflers. After a brief waltz in the public eye, this “poor man’s jazz” faded from popularity after 1940.

In the 1950s, skiffle made its way to England in the fingers of Lonnie Donegan, a jazz musician who cut his teeth on swing, country, and blues. Inspired by the likes of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly, Donegan picked up the banjo and started playing “skiffle breaks” in between sets with some of his fellow band mates in Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen. His recording of Lead Belly’s “Rock Island Line” shot to the top of British and American music charts in 1956, and soon Donegan was releasing full albums of skiffle and playing on The Perry Como Show.

The popularity of this musical form cannot be overstated: it is estimated that there were 30,000–50,000 skiffle groups in Britain during the late ‘50s. Why this sudden interest? Certainly, there was an appetite for musical styles originating in the African-American South which was whetted by access to American radio during World War II and musical-variety television shows of the ‘50s. Some suggest it had something to do with skiffle’s playful informality: the lyrics are often simple, the music has room for improvisation, and the instruments aren’t expensive or hard to come by. In a Britain still recovering economically from a devastating war, it was appealing to use simple instruments like kazoos, washboards, or harmonicas, and to construct “tea box basses” and “cigar box fiddles” with cheap materials close at hand. Skiffle exploded the idea of what music is and who could make it at a moment in history when people were ready for change.

Though the mania for the form ended with the ‘60s, many of the 20th century’s most popular musicians got their starts in a skiffle band. Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, The Spinners, Alex Harvey, and Mick Jagger all began in skiffle, as well as a little group called The Quarrymen. In 1956, a teenaged John Lennon learned how to play the banjo from his mother, and started practicing skiffle songs with a few other boys from “Quarry High School” in his backyard air-raid shelter. After moderate success at a few neighborhood gigs, Lennon convinced budding guitarist Paul McCartney to join the band, and brought in a 15-year-old George Harrison in 1958. By 1960s, The Beatles were born and the British Invasion was in full force. You can still find skiffle in its pure form today in living rooms, back porches, and street corners, but its playful, creative spirit lives on in the DNA of modern pop, rock, and jazz.

Leather masks and cartoon anvils

Commedia’s stock characters and comedy today

By Lexi Diamond

1615: On a busy street in Italy, Arlecchino finishes an enormous meal and—somehow still famished—begins to devour himself, starting from the feet and working his way up.

2015: On a television screen in an American living room, ever-hungry Homer Simpson awakes from a nap to find a hotdog bun placed on his hand, and instinctively begins chomping away at his own fleshy limb.

This kind of comedy brings us a visceral satisfaction. We long to see the hungry fool messily dive headfirst into a plate of food, or the blustering blowhard humiliate himself in front of those he’d most like to impress. Conventions like these spring up time and again in contemporary popular culture because they have been deeply engrained in our collective sense of humor for centuries. Many of today’s most familiar comedic tropes can be traced back to the 1600s, where they were born from commedia dell’arte. Though commedia as it was once practiced has largely fallen into obscurity, the broad comedic archetypes it established continue to make us laugh every day in sitcoms and cartoons.

The basis for One Man, Two Guvnors lies in Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, arguably the most famous play from the tradition of commedia dell’arte. This late-Renaissance Italian theatrical form relied on an arsenal of stock characters whose stories changed from play to play, but whose personalities and behaviors stayed the same. Each character was performed with a signature costume, mask, and physical vocabulary, making the role instantly identifiable to onlookers who came to the public squares where commedia troupes performed their shows. For the most part, the plays themselves were loosely plotted stories, strung together by improvisation, audience interaction, songs, and lazzi, or comedic bits that served to demonstrate each character’s archetypal personality.

The stock characters belonged to one of two classes: masters or servants, and status factored heavily into each character’s persona. The stories themselves usually took place in the house of a wealthy family and involved a marriage plot gone wrong. The Masters, or Vecchi (Italian for “old men”), were usually the lovers’ respective fathers. Their stories usually involved them getting in the way of the young people’s happiness in favor of their own gain. There was Pantalone, a miserly, lecherous old coot who cared more for money than people, and Il Dottore, a bumbling academic who was easily befuddled by his own academic pretense. Il Capitano, a swaggering, macho show-off, also belonged to the upper class, as did the lovers. The Lovers, or innamorati, went by many names, but were always unmasked and wholly ridiculous. They existed to be in love: in love with the other innamorato, in love with themselves, and in love with love.

There were many stock characters of the servant class, called Zanni, the most famous of whom was Arlecchino. Arlecchino was a silly, mischievous servant who was forever in search of his next meal. He constantly created chaos, his talent for acrobatics and physical comedy coming out as he tried to dodge the mix-ups he himself often stirred up. His female counterpart, Smeraldina, was a clever, saucy maid who often figured things out several steps ahead of the others and had to set them all straight. Brighella, a slightly higher-class Zanni, was a crude, low-level merchant or tavern owner who willingly bent the rules to make a profit. Brighella and the Masters often employed a number of additional, unnamed Zanni, each one more foolish and scrambled than the next.

Because these recognizable characters were ruled so heavily by their foibles, audiences could anticipate that the humor would come from seeing them thwarted by their signature imperfection, be it greed, lust, or plain old stupidity. This created a sense of suspense for the crowd of onlookers, a balance between familiarity and surprise: they knew what would bring a character’s downfall, but eagerly awaited the fresh how. Think Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner around a bend—we know that an anvil meant for his foe has been laid on the cliff above, and we know that obsessed Wile E. Coyote isn’t nearly as clever a planner as he fancies himself. The comedy, then, comes from waiting to see his plans foiled once again as the object of his fanatical hunt outsmarts him.

The archetypes put into motion over 400 years ago on the street corners of Italy are still essential to our comedy vocabulary today. When sweet, dimwitted Gilligan of Gilligan’s Island gets underfoot and causes a ruckus, we see shades of Arlecchino. When Owl from Winnie-the-Pooh delivers a pretentious lecture to the others but confuses the facts amidst his self-importance, Il Dottore rears up. From Charlie Chaplin to Sponge-Bob SquarePants, and from The Cosby Show to Monty Python, these clowns are all around us.

David Ivers on comedy, classics, and cooking

By the Berkeley Rep Literary Staff

Director David Ivers is a man of many talents. He originally cut his teeth as an actor, eventually transitioning into a career as a director and artistic director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival. His work was recently seen at Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where his production of the Marx Brothers’ musical The Cocoanuts brought down the house with spot-on slapstick and unrepentant improv. From his home in the Utah mountains, David Ivers took a few minutes to speak with the Berkeley Rep literary staff about One Man, Two Guvnors and his approach to comedy.

Berkeley Rep: Richard Bean used Carlo Goldoni’s commedia dell’arte classic The Servant of Two Masters as a springboard for One Man, Two Guvnors. Can you say a little bit about why you think he might have set his version on the boardwalks of 1960’s Brighton?

David Ivers: There has to be a cloak of anonymity to The Servant of Two Masters. It’s essential to the theme. My theory is that boardwalks—which are prevalent in Brighton—provide a kind of anonymity. They become these sort of microcosms of classless societies because they often attract tourists and visitors, and it therefore becomes very hard to tell where stratification lies.

So I think one of the reasons the play is set in Brighton, in England, under the cloak of this boardwalk is that anyone can just arrive there, you know? It’s like going to an amusement park. You’re just waiting for the nighttime. You just get to be anonymous. It gives you a kind of courage.

Are you using the music from the original National Theatre production, or are you bringing someone in to do your own compositions?

We can’t compose new music for it. We’ll have sound cues like the doorbell; that’ll be original. But we’re not composing anything. As a matter of fact, the score is so amazing in that it provides options in certain sections. Like, if you need an extra 30 seconds to change the set behind that curtain, play this!

And the show is built like a machine: this downbeat drops here into rock and roll for two minutes and 32 seconds, on two minutes and 30 seconds your stage manager is calling the cue out on that drop, lights are bumping up, we’re hoping for applause that will cover that last bit of travel, and then we’re into the scene.

Nothing moves in the play scenically, nothing technical happens without a live band covering it. It’s such a present show. It’s so immediate. The band sits within touching distance of the first row. That means there’s also a fairly loud band that close to the first row, and it means that the energy of the play has to embrace that. There has to be a really wonderful synergy moving in several directions between the music in the show and the audience, the story and the audience, the actor and the audience, the actor and the band, the band and the audience…

How do you go about finding collaborators for this kind of a project?

Give me warm, generous, and funny over everything. I don’t care what you look like—if you’re warm as a person, and you’re generous as a person, and you have a good sense of humor, you can accomplish anything. I believe that in my leadership position, I believe it in my approach to these plays.

I’ve got a bunch of nimrods that I get to work with over and over again—we’re like 8-year-olds! We work more and more together, and we go, “Wow, they’re giving us money to do this again?”

For example, I’ve worked with [costume designer] Meg Neville several times. I loved her from the first time we met, because she showed me a bunch of her drawings that had her lipstick on them. She’s got a million things going on and she always retains this wonderful sense of humor and does everything with a great sense of style. And I really love her sense of whimsy.

I’ve known Gregg Coffin, our music director, since college. We’ve worked together on a ton of stuff. We bonded over Bugs Bunny and an insane appreciation for the math of that kind of work.

Do you find yourself generally attracted to larger scale, multi-piece projects like this?

I find that other people are generally attracted to me doing that for them—I would really love to do a four-person play set in a black box with a couch!

But seriously, I’m a total classicist at heart. I was reared on Shakespeare, Shaw, Ibsen, Moliere, Goldoni…And with anything that’s rooted in classicism, we have to decide for ourselves what it’s about, and then proceed with ultimate clarity.

So I think what that’s come to mean is that I understand structure. Structure reveals itself in a lot of ways, and in classical plays, it tends to reveal itself with a lot of people and a lot of moving parts. So I’m drawn to the challenge of that. It inevitably makes me incredibly nervous. And incredibly humbled. Because it’s like sitting down at the piano to a new Shostakovich composition and going, how are my fingers going to figure this out?

This play is very British—are you approaching it any differently as a piece for an American audience?

If there’s one thing I know about America, it’s that we’re obsessed with British culture. We’re completely enamored by not only the rhythms of the dialect, but also the rhythms of the way in which people there conduct their lives. So for me, I think it adds to the aural composition of the play.

Also, I grew up with a British mother, so that helps in terms of understanding the humor. And a lot of it is cued in visually, and that’s pretty universal. Someone falling down the stairs is someone falling down the stairs. You either have a proclivity towards enjoying that stuff or you think it’s childish. Me, I love it.

I think it’s going to be a really visceral, energetic, stupid-in-the-best-way, frolicking mess. With rock and roll supporting this absolutely insane, wonderful, chaotic world. I don’t think we want to approach it differently for American audiences. American audiences were reared on The Three Stooges, Tom & Jerry, and Looney Tunes. So I think we’ll have some intersections.

Can you talk a little bit about some of your personal comedic influences?

Well, The Three Stooges, Tom & Jerry, and Looney Tunes. My father is French-Canadian, and my mother’s British. My father used to bring my brother and me into the living room on the weekends while my mother would cook breakfast. And the reason she’d love to be in the other room was so that she could hear us laughing, because my dad would sit us down and start the weekend watching The Three Stooges.

The world of farce and physical comedy really speaks to me because it marries precision with being a child, with childishness—innocence and purity and total youthful exuberance with a kind of virtuosity. I think it’s one of the only art forms that has the ability to do that.

This kind of work is like cooking. It’s really better when you do it generously and for the benefit of other people. And that’s what will keep heart in this production, and will make it transcend just a bunch of idiots running around having a good time.

Can you remember the time you’ve laughed hardest?

It might have been last night, when my son Elliot—well, I laugh at my kids all the time. They’re young, so I pull up small vignettes of, like, Peter Sellers doing the parallel bar routine and falling down the staircase. And I don’t laugh anymore at the actual video as much as I laugh my ass off watching my kids respond to the same stuff. I tend to get great joy out of creating the work and then feeling other people respond to it.

Watch now

Official wicked-brilliant trailer

Oy, mate, see for yourself why One Man, Two Guvnors is a “rollicking sense of fun from start to finish!”

Nonstop entertainment

Get a sneak peek at One Man, Two Guvnors with director David Ivers and leading man Dan Donohue!

On the telly

It’s 15 seconds of bright color and a smashing British accent for One Man, Two Guvnors!

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Additional resources

Check out this fab list created by our mates in the literary department.

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About the play

“‘There are no jobs for hairy blokes without finesse’: An interview with playwright Richard Bean” by Walter Bilderback

  • Playwright Richard Bean talks about his journey to becoming one of the most important writers in the UK today in this interview with the Wilma Theater.
  • For a shorter interview specifically about Bean’s adaptation process for One Man, Two Guvnors, you might enjoy this visitlondon.com blog post.

“The Origins of Farce”

  • This blog post by a dramaturg at the University of York provides a broad and compelling history of British farce and comedy. It tracks the form’s journey from the Italian tradition of commedia dell’arte to British musical hall to Alan Ayckbourn and Noël Coward.

The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni

  • The full text for Carlo Goldoni’s The Servant of Two Masters, the source material for Richard Bean’s play, can be found online through Project Gutenberg.

The Comic Mask in the Commedia dell’Arte by Antonio Fava

  • In One Man, Two Guvnors Richard Bean pays close attention to spotlighting the stock characters that are so quintessential to commedia dell’arte. This book by Antonio Fava provides vivid descriptions of those archetypes, giving analyses of how each one walked, how they would complicate plots, and even how they compare to modern sports figures.

About the era

“Was 1963 the best year to be a man?” by Alex Proud

  • This article takes a nostalgic look back at the glamor, drama, and revolution of the very year and place where One Man takes place: the UK in 1963. With an eye on pop culture and politics, the author takes a close look at what it looked like to be a young man in swinging London.

“Mods And Rockers Fighting For Fashion And Fun In 1960s England” by Paul Sorene

  • This photo gallery includes images from the Brighton Boardwalk in the early 1960s during a famous clash between two youth gangs, the mods and the rockers. The series should provide a sense the energy of the Brighton waterfront where One Man takes place.

About the music

Interview with Grant Olding

  • Grant Olding, composer of the music for the production of One Man, Two Guvnors, discusses writing skiffle songs in the rehearsal room and putting together the band that scores the show, the Craze.

Skiffle: The Definitive Inside Story by Chas McDevitt

  • This book tells the story of skiffle from its jazz-blues-folk beginnings in the U.S. to its explosion in 1950s Britain, which led directly to the birth of so many British rock bands and singers. The book also includes photographs and a CD of music that illustrates the evolution of the sound.

Lonnie Donegan—Rock Island Line (Live)

  • This video recording features a 1961 performance by “King of Skiffle” Lonnie Donegan, the British musician who is credited for sparking the skiffle explosion in the UK.

Beatles Beginnings

  • This series of compilation CDs highlights the songs and styles that inspired the Beatles in their early evolution from a skiffle band known as the Quarrymen to the rock ‘n’ roll sensation they became. The albums feature some of the biggest names in jazz, rockabilly, Motown, and pop of the 1960s, whose influences are clear in the Beatles and in the One Man band, the Craze.

Docent talks and discussions

Pre-show docent talks

Meet us in the Theatre an hour before the show on Tuesdays and Thursdays for an engrossing presentation about your subscription-season play. Hear about the playwright’s perspective, dive into the historical context, and discover why the script is relevant right now. Each 30-minute talk includes plenty of time for your questions.

Post-show docent-led discussions

Join your fellow audience members after all matinees and share your thoughts on the show.

Our docents also offer talks off-site

  • Thursday, May 28 · 1pm—Moraga Library

Interested in becoming a docent? Click here for details. For more information about Berkeley Rep’s docent program, please email docent@berkeleyrep.org.

Teen Night

Teen Night gives local teens the opportunity to meet for dinner and a behind-the-scenes discussion with a member of the artistic team before attending each subscription-season production at an extremely discounted price.

  • Friday, May 8, 2015

Past Teen Night guests have included: Tony Taccone, Berkeley Rep’s Michael Leibert Artistic Director; Ray Garcia and Salvatore Vassallo, dancers in Rita Moreno: Life Without Makeup; and Michael Suenkel, Berkeley Rep’s production stage manager.

Teen Night begins at 6:30pm at the Berkeley Rep School of Theatre. Tickets are $10. Learn more. To reserve your space, call Teen Council at 510 647–2973 or email teencouncil@berkeleyrep.org.

Last Call

Cap off your night with us after select evening performances throughout the season and sample wine, spirits, and other culinary delights from local vendors—all for FREE! Samplings begin immediately following the performance.

  • Friday, May 22, 2015

Post-show discussions

Stick around after select performances for lively Q&A sessions with our artists on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights.

  • Thursday, May 28, 2015
  • Tuesday, June 2, 2015
  • Friday, June 12, 2015