SO many of the phrases from Fawlty Towers – now incredibly celebrating its 40th anniversary – have found their way into everyday language that we feel we know the staff and customers at the Torquay guest house as well as we know our own friends.
In Yeovil, where the Civic Players have been entertaining audiences for even longer (45 years!), the choice of episodes from the iconic TV show was obvious. And Andrew Meadows, a skilled comic actor himself, was the ideal director for the project.
Civic, the “second” regular user of the Swan Theatre, has a reputation for the excellence of its comedies and its sets, and the company rose magnificently to the challenge of translating a television show to the stage.
The three episodes, Communication Problems, The Wedding Party and The Germans, call not only for the reception area and dining room, but stairs, upstairs bedrooms, and even a hospital room. If the scene changes were a bit clunky, they were hilariously “masked” by the repeated playing of the theme tune, for just as long as was needed, adding to the comic tension.
To bring off a recreation of the show, you need four actors who can carry the central roles, and Civic Players called on the hilarious Rich Walters to “do” Basil – to a T – with Colin Francis as Manuel from Barcelona, Amanda Perry as a distinctive Polly and Vicky Walters swooping Sybil.
With its cast of 19, Fawlty Towers gave the company members lots of chances to show their skills, and specially memorable are Lynn Lee Brown as the deaf and difficult Mrs Richards, Tony Reese’s Major (in all three playlets), Chantelle Souttar as the outré Mrs Peignoir and Luke Best as the young wedding guest.
But this is fun for everyone – on stage and off, and even accentuated by the hilarious draw, in which the stage lighting turned blue and pink tickets into an identical hue, and the poor man trying to find the winners couldn’t tell the colour of those pulled out of the hat.
Very Fawlty Towers!
The production continues until Saturday 28th November, nightly at 7.45.