Photo: Hugo Glendinning

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from the stage show of Fawlty Towers – would it simply be a nostalgic evening of lighthearted entertainment, drawing sketches from the short-lived but enduringly-popular 1970s TV series? Or would it contain some surprises? Would there be an attempt to modernise the material for a world that’s very different from when the pilot episode aired some 50 years ago?

This play very much is an exercise in nostalgia. If you’re a fan of the TV show, you’ll know what to expect – a lighthearted comedy set in a hotel and, well, that’s basically the whole premise. Basil Fawlty (Adam Jackson-Smith) is the uptight owner and manager of the hotel, running it alongside his wife Sybil (Anna-Jane Casey). Help is provided by Polly (Victoria Fox) and – although often more of a hindrance – Manuel (Hemi Yeroham).

Over the course of the evening we’re introduced to a range of hotel guests that fans of the show will be familiar with – The Major, Mrs Richards, the Germans – they’re all present and correct. Over a couple of hours, we’re essentially given a greatest hits set of the TV show’s best-known moments. If you’ve seen the two series of the show, then you’ll know these characters and you’ll have heard these jokes before.

It makes for an amusing enough evening, although we did start to wonder how much of an appetite there would be for a play like this. Fawlty Towers doesn’t attempt to do anything original or new with its source material – it’s an evening of recreating TV sketches on stage. Yes, an impressive recreation – the acting performances are essentially impersonations, and very good ones they are too – but the enjoyment is basically derived from having originally enjoyed the source material. If you like the TV show, you’ll probably like this too, though we doubt it’s likely to win over any new fans.

GAY TIMES gives Fawlty Towers – 3/5

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