Mistaken Identity In One Man Two Guvnors

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Richard Bean’s ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ is an adaptation of Carlo Goldoni’s ‘The Servant of Two Masters’. The adaptation relocates the setting for the events to 1963 Brighton, a time which allowed Richard Bean to incorporate a range of dramatic functions to enhance the play’s comedic nature and to modernise it to fit with the the newfound audience of the 21st century. Richard Bean retains many of the elements of traditional commedia dell’arte in his characters and his production of the play. However, he has placed a twist in that there is an absence of masked characters who instead conceal their true identity through language. The plays consists of various conflicts which convey comedy. Conflict with reality and appearance brings to surface the elements of the traditional commedia dell’arte in the form of mistaken identity, which enriches the farcical plot-lines that occur in the play. The very embodiment of mistaken identity establishes that what may be seem real could be quite the opposite, however the characters in the play are unable to distinguish this as their vision becomes distorted by their fall into the deception of appearance. It is this very comedic device that enables the conflict between Roscoe (Rachel) and Alan, or Charlie and Alan’s father to occur which is a significant part of the comedic nature of the play as the unproportional situation is what sparks laughter from the audience, and so it is the presence of mistaken identity alone that conveys the play into a light-hearted comedy. Furthermore, Peter O'Neill quotes that ‘using humour can provide a degree of safety for expressing difficult ideas or opinions which could be particularly effective…’. In the circumstances of the quotation Richard Bean effectively c... ... middle of paper ... ...es serious issues to be comical, the ability for Francis to fool and deceive both his guvnors up till the end of play seems almost humorous, arousing the comedic nature of the play. However, it is the mistreatment of Alfie that limits the comedy in the play from conflict, the more mature audience would feel outraged by the treatment of the 80 year old war veteran who is smacked over the head with an 'autographed cricket bat'. This is insensitive as it shows an elder being treated like an object to whack, and thus many may find some aspects of conflict in a severity light instead of in comedic nature. To conclude, the comedy in One Man, Two Guvnors is centered around conflict to a great extent, in that the conflict that is established in the play exposes the comical nature of the characters who collide with each other and who easily fall into deception and confusion.

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