Fawlty Towers – Tip Top Productions

Supporting Tip Top Productions and all their endeavours:

The Forum Theatre Chester & Tip Top Productions presented :

Fawlty Towers; 12th – 24th May

A Review by Rose McInerney

Enclosed once again in the cosy studio that is the Forum Theatre, I was far too excited for the night of nostalgia ahead of me. Despite Fawlty Towers being 13 years older than me, I have known these jokes since birth; shouts of ‘Manuel!’ were not an uncommon occurrence in my house. Tip Top productions have recreated the set of Fawlty Towers – not an easy task when asked to work in several dimensions at once – but made full use of the space as sometimes only amatuer productions are able. As soon as you walk through the door, you can feel the sense of the set and even those who have not previously seen the original TV creation can sense they are in for something exciting.

The night is split up into three acts, each one an episode, within thirty seconds of the first act I knew I was watching something excellent. Basil’s (Dhugal Fulton) clipped delivery and Sybil’s (Alison Pritchard) not so soothing tones perfectly mimic the original genius of John Cleese and Prunella Scales, while each bringing their own take to the characters. I’m sure most remember the story, but watching Basil’s slow downfall to his own paranoia in this first episode ‘The Psychiatrist’ as played by this this cast is such a delight, it would be unthinkable to miss. By the first interval, I am already so engrossed and eager to see more, I cannot wait to see the next episode.

‘Waldorf Salad’ does not disappoint, Basil manages to usher his American guests through hell and back all in the pursuit of salad and screwdrivers while Sybil, in her usual fashion, manages to get the job done and read her novel before it all goes to pot.  Our favourite residents; The Colonel, Miss Tibbs and Miss Gastby really show their worth this episode with their fabulous one-liners and excellent delivery.  The righteous indignation of Mr Hamilton (the American) is just wonderful and when he finally rallies the guests of the hotel together, we see Basil attempt to check into his own hotel. Truly shining in the last act however, are Manuel (Andy Jordan) and Polly (Zoe Boyd), transporting an extremely dead Mr Leeman all around the hotel turns out to be tiring work and even the combined effort from all four main characters is not enough to stop things going catastrophically wrong.

This live action version of the much beloved TV classic is not one to be missed. Larger than life characters such as Basil Fawlty are easy to overact, but the cast manage to skate the line perfectly leaving my cheeks aching with laughter and a good mood that persists for days. Tip top Theatre has once again brought a fantastic production to the table that fans of the show and first timers will both love. I cannot recommend this production highly enough and hope everyone manages to see it before the run ends.

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