(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/25.)
In 1746, Carlo Goldoni wrote a classic comedy normally translated as The Servant of Two Masters. Richard Bean has used it for a riotous farce combining the original's structure with a particularly Anglo-Saxon verbal and physical humour. The result, a kind of Carry On Carlo, is one of the funniest productions in the National's history.
The plot almost defies description. But Bean has set the action in 1963 in Brighton, and the key point is that Francis Henshall, a failed skiffle player, finds himself working for two guvnors. One, Rachel Crabbe, is disguised as her dead gangland twin, and, in her brutal mop-like wig, bears an uncanny resemblance to Ringo Starr.