James Corden wows Broadway critics in One Man Two Guvnors

US critics fall for Gavin and Stacey actor's comic charms, and ask, 'Can we keep him?'

BY Annemarie Lopez LAST UPDATED AT 14:00 ON Fri 20 Apr 2012

THE BROADWAY opening of One Man, Two Guvnors, a National Theatre production starring James Corden, has been a hit with US critics. The comedy, Richard Bean's adaptation of Carlo Goldini's A Servant of Two Masters, opened on Wednesday at New York's Music Box Theater.

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney calls the former Gavin and Stacey actor Corden, who also starred in the original NT production in London, "a supreme jester" and a "virtuoso ringmaster". Rooney also credits Nicholas Hytner's production with "striking an ingenious balance between meticulous planning and what plays like anarchic spontaneity".

In The New York Times, Ben Brantly calls One Man a "splendidly silly" blend of "music hall slapstick, Carry On-movie-style bawdiness and Monty Python-esque absurdity". Corden is the comedy's anchor, says Brantly. His "portly person is the very embodiment of this show's artful anarchy".

The Washington Post says Corden is "a combination of both Laurel and Hardy" whose "open, friendly face" quickly endears him to the roaring crowd. Meanwhile the New York Daily News' Joe Dziemianowicz hails Corden as "mad talented, adorable and hilarious" and asks: "Can we keep James Corden in New York for good?"   

While the praise was almost universal, one critic refused to be seduced by the pudgy star's charms. Linda Winer, in Newsday, declares she is no fan of this particular brand of "slapstick, pants-dropping, music-hall" British comedy, but admits that most of the audience loved the show. "There are few experiences lonelier," she sighs, "than sitting with a poker face in a hall of laughter."

Fortunately for Corden and the National Theatre, Winer seems to be in the minority. In London, the show (now with Owain Arthur in Corden's role) is extending at the Theatre Royal till January, with 100,000 extra tickets. Corden has committed to play in the Broadway production until September. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.