Review by John Pinchbeck
IT was with some apprehension I took my seat at the Guildhall Theatre for Grantham Dramatic Society’s latest production, Fawlty Towers.
After all, this popular 1970s sitcom written and starred in by John Cleese and Connie Booth, has been seen so many times both in BBC repeats and even now on UK Gold, copying it would be like trying to remake the classic film The African Queen.
But those negative thoughts were dispelled from the opening lines by Sybil. If ever they decided to write a follow-up for a TV series, producers need look no further than Tami Brown as Mrs Fawlty.
The voice, the mannerisms – well, it was spooky. Prunella Scales rejuvenated.
Then there was Paul Meakin, who was a doppelganger for Basil – in fact when his head was bandaged there was scarcely any difference. He had him off to a tee.
He’ll never manage the German goosestep I told myself. But he did, and did it perfectl
And ewcomer Silas Lee – looking uncannily like King Alfred from current TV series The Last Kingdom – was simply outstanding as Manuel.
Which of course made it all the harder for Helen Pack as Polly to remain the only link with sanity in the entire hotel.
It was a compilation of three stories from the series. Communication Problems, featuring Sandy Ford-Pain as the irritatingly deaf Mrs Richards, The Germans and Basil the Rat.
I was pleasantly surprised they retained the non-PC German xenophobia (the joke is on the bigots, not the Germans) but they did, unsurprisingly, chicken out on the difference between the Indian and West Indian cricketers.
My only disappointment came in the final scene when there were just too many people milling about, pretending to eat and talk. This works well enough on TV with focussing and editing but on stage it just becomes too cluttered.
That said, it was an outstanding performance by all the roles and a throughly entertaining evening.
Fawlty Towers’ runs from 25th to 28th November, 7.30pm nightly. Tickets are on sale now from the Guildhall Arts Centre on 01476 406158 or book online via www.granthamdramaticsociety.co.uk.