Image via WikipediaFawlty Towers
Review 17th July 2010
Westovians Theatre, South Shields
With myself being a huge fan of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers, I thought reviewing this performance at the Westovians Theatre in South Shields was going to be a fairly hard task.
You cannot deny the comic genius and the talent that has graced our TV screens for well over 40 years, in my mind - comic perfection of the highest calibre.
So faced between top TV talent and local amateur talent, I assumed that there would be a whole galaxy separating them - my assumption was well out!!!
As soon as the opening bars of the Fawlty Towers tune aired around the theatre, I had this feeling that it was going to be good, probably myself and the rest of the sold out crowd!!!
For our entrance fee tonight we could feast upon 3 out of the 12 episodes that were produced by the original Fawlty Towers team.
First up was ‘Touch of Class’ which introduced us to the design of the slanted stage - from back to front, which allowed us to see everything in great detail without us straining our necks, nice little touch there but maybe I will rediscover myself as a chiropractor to ease any aches and pains that the actors might be feeling. Touch of class is the tale of Basil wanting more lucrative bookings at his Hotel, so he places an advertisement to secure a more upper class type of client.
This on paper sounded like a good idea, but it soon goes into typical Towers haywire when Lord Melbury turns up, and Fawlty (wanting to over impress his new upper crust client) allows him the works. Unfortunately Melbury is a confidence trickster and almost gets away with Fawlty’s ‘crown jewels’ (his coin collection) what ensures is a good old tale of farce and mayhem.
Up next was ‘Communication Problems’ which stars Mrs. Richards as the tone deaf guest who complains about everything, especially the sea view that she specifically booked. This is Fawlty at his sarcastic best, and one of the best loved episodes.
The players tonight worked their best in these scenes, and they certainly won the crowd over.
Next “Hotel Inspector” leads us onto a journey of mass confusion for the Management of the Hotel, as a promised inspection, causes Fawlty to over excite himself in dealing with outside sources. Has Fawlty got the right man? Will the inspection promote the Hotel? Will it fail and sink the Torquay based hotel into the ground?
The cast pulled this one off with total confidence and it was a pleasure to watch and listen to the ranting and the ravings.
Dean Jukes as Basil and Mary Stephinson as his long suffering wife Sybil, totally dominated the stage with well produced acting and humour that the whole crowd lapped up. Jukes in only his second production not only looked like Fawlty, but leaped about, screamed and shouted his heart out...I think John Cleese
has a right old fight on his hands. A memorable mention for Craig Richardson, who played Manuel ‘the waiter from Barcelona’ to a tee, his fumblings and accent, were very true to the original.
Image via Wikipedia
The cast as a whole brought about the inception of Cleese and Booth’s comic venture to a very satisfying execution.
The stage designers also pulled the whole thing off with flawless changes and the hard work paid off with minimal fuss during scenes.
It was brilliant to see all the seats filled tonight, and great to see a smile upon the faces of the crowd.
This is what theatre does to you!!!
The Westovian Theatre have been producing wonderful productions since its induction in 1913, and the staff and surroundings are a little gem in the heartland of fish ‘n’ chips and amusement arcades in South Shields.
Three more productions until the Family Panto in January are available for your consumption and I can’t wait to review these and be entertained in the way that I have tonight.