Tonight is the first showing of the Chameleon Theatre Company’s Fawlty Towers. I got to see it last night at a free “press screening” and a special night to entertain the elderly from our local nursing homes in Chandler’s Ford. Here is my review of the show. I will discuss the show in depth so watch it before reading on.
Basil (Dave Wilkins) was struggling to deal with guests at Fawlty Towers. Mr Walt (Stephen Fenerty; left) and Mr Hutchison (Wayne Bradshaw; right).
Based on the TV show (which I haven’t seen, yet), the show revolves around Basil Fawlty, an insane and easy-to-annoy hotel manager who hates his guests. He runs the hotel with his wife, Sybil, and Manuel, his waiter, along with other characters. Three episodes are adapted, so I will look at each one individually.
A Touch of Class
In this part, a rich and important person called Lord Melbury visits the hotel, so Basil has to be nice and incredibly polite to him. There are lots of running gags in this one, including a picture being hung up, Manuel’s inability to understand many English words, and a customer who never gets his order.
What makes this part funny is Basil’s inability to function normally. He moves guests out of their table to appease Lord Melbury (who really doesn’t care about Basil’s efforts) and tries to tell Manuel to fetch the wine list despite it being right in front of him. In short, Basil is a control freak, who completely loses it in several comedic scenes in all three sections. My favourite part of this particular section is the running gag of the picture being put up.
(Rehearsal image): Danny (sitting, played by Paul Jones) was after Lord Melbury. With Basil (Dave Wilkins) and Manuel (Terry James).
The Hotel Inspectors
This one is my favourite. Basil becomes paranoid about local hotel inspectors and comes under the assumption that Mr Hutchinson, a guest who he thoroughly dislikes, is one of them. Meanwhile a second guest, Mr Walt, is trying to have a normal stay, but is caught up in Basil’s schemes.
The best thing about this is the use of mistaken identity. It is hard to guess which guest is the inspector, and Basil tries to satisfy them both. A hilarious part involves Basil trying to open a wine bottle. It also doesn’t help Basil that mishaps keep happening to him, as his attempts to make the hotel look manageable fall flat. Mr Hutchinson is an incredibly obnoxious and vocal person, which forces Basil to try and silence him in case Mr Walt, who he assumes is a hotel inspector, sees, Basil does this by choking Mr Hutchinson unconscious, which is incredibly funny.
The moment Basil (played by Dave Wilkins) met the Hotel Inspectors.
The other funny thing is the ending, when Basil thinks he’s won. This is hilarious given the previous events in the episode. I won’t give it away but it is very funny and somewhat satisfying.
This episode revolves around Mrs Richards whose picky remarks (the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible and the radio doesn’t work) drive Basil insane. He is also trying to hide his horse betting win money from his wife; however, this plan fails when Mrs Richards complains her money is stolen.
Basil (Dave Wilkins) asked Manuel (Terry James) to help him bet on a horse without wanting Sybil to know.
The two plots in this work really well together, as they both merge together like any good comedy. This section features my favourite exchange of the whole show, between Basil and Mrs Richards, his guest. The scene is absolutely hilarious.
Mrs Richards (Liz Strevens; centre) was very demanding. With Sybil (Marilyn Dunbar) and Basil (Dave Wilkins).
Basil was distraught. Kerr (Nick Coleman) came to bring him good news.
Overall, this is a great show if you want a night out with lots of laughs. I now want to watch the original show and watch the other episodes of it. The comedy is similar to Monty Python, Blackadder and other British comedies. The use of language and character stereotypes are distinctly British, so if you like British comedies, like me, you’ll love this show.
Director of Fawlty Towers: Gillian Wilkins