Cappies Review of Woodson's Production of One Man, Two Guvnors

By Communication and Community Relations
November 11, 2022

Fairfax County Public Schools students are talented actors, musicians, and visual artists. Many FCPS high schools participate in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre, otherwise known as the Cappies.

The Cappies is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. There are fifteen Cappies chapters across the United States and Canada. 

Editor's Note: This review of Woodson High School's production of One Man, Two Guvnors is written by Josie Amspaugh of Langley High School.

Working two jobs is stressful. Watching someone work two jobs is entertaining, and it makes one hilarious comedy.

"One Man, Two Guvnors" was a thrilling comedy based on the classic commedia dell'arte play, One Man, Two Masters. Following the archetypes commonly found in dell'arte works, the play followed Francis, the Harlequin, as he attempted to juggle working for two different governors, and the slapstick comedy that ensued as he tried to outwit both of them in hopes of just getting a good meal. Often calling upon audience members to aid him in his schemes, One Man, Two Guvnors was a delightful treat all the way through.

Francis was played by Diya Selvan, a natural comedian with a great British accent and a knack for improv. Her performance was engaging, hilarious and very entertaining. Her exaggerated movements enhanced the tension, and her jokes always managed to land. Selvan was able to carry each scene she was in, and her stage presence extended to the entire auditorium as she filled the space with laughter. It's just like she said: "Everyone loves a clown!"

The rest of the title was of course made up by the two "guvnors," Roscoe Crabbe and Stanley Stubbers, played by Alyce Visioli and Farooq Khan respectively. In a wild twist however, Roscoe was actually his twin sister Rachel! Visioli was able to keep the air of the intimidating gangster, but naturally and immediately switched into her more feminine persona. The sheer magnitude of her performance and her smart direction choices made the character feel larger than life, and bounced excellently off Khan, who played her lover. The scene where they both realized that their partners aren't actually dead was beautifully constructed and radiated with chemistry, while still kept the light and funny tone.

Other lovers include Pauline and Alan who managed to be an even more comedic duo. Pauline, played by Maddie Keene, was as dumb as a brick, and hopelessly in love with her wannabe actor boyfriend who was played by Peter Gardner. Their physicality and dramatic facial expressions had audiences dying from laughter as they ran around the stage. And who could forget Alan's iconic relationship with buses! 

Nothing was more iconic than the performance of audience member Christine, who was played by Charlotte Willmore. At first, she appeared to just be a random audience member plucked to be on stage, and it only becomes apparent that she's an actor when she was sprayed with the prop fire extinguisher (which was very well designed!), and only because that wouldn't be legal otherwise! Willmore's character felt so genuine and convincing, it left other audience members in shock that she wasn't actually one of them! Her acting was remarkable and created one of the funniest moments in the entire show.

Finally, it would be remiss not to mention the amazing costumes in One Man, Two Guvnors designed by Katy Nguyen and her phenomenal costume crew. The 1960s fashion was not only stylish, perfectly able to capture each character, but also intelligently designed. Complementary colors were used with each color, while parent-child duos chose to wear matching colors. Alan's flamboyant teal scarf was characteristic of a thespian, as opposed to the more muted blue worn by his father. 

Overall, One Man, Two Guvnors is a hilarious romp and definitely worth the watch. Come prepared to laugh and then laugh some more, thanks to the incredible W. T. Woodson theatre program!