Home > Entertainment > High-jinx at The Playhouse: A review of Fawlty Towers at The Playhouse

High-jinx at The Playhouse: A review of Fawlty Towers at The Playhouse

First published in Bolander Lifestyle & Property, December 2, 2010

Basil Fawlty (Garth Brandon-Podd) on the receiving end from the pedantic Mr Hutchison (Bobby Bennett) in Act One ("The Hotel Inspectors") of Fawlty Towers at The Playhouse, Somerset West. Show ends Saturday, December 11, tickets R60 from Computicket.

By Caroyln Frost

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable Sunday afternoon watching the final dress rehearsal of Fawlty Towers, at the Playhouse Theatre in Somerset West – where the hilarious shenanigans of the dysfunctional staff of the television show are captured on stage in perfect renditions of the original.

Garth Brandon-Podd, who is a newcomer (and unquestionably born) to acting, is absolutely perfect as Basil Fawlty, the loose-limbed, frantic, intolerant, obsequious and curiously-endearing owner, whose interactions with pursed-lipped wife Sybil (played with aplomb by Anthea Nixon-Bosch), gives the sense of an old couple fitting together as comfortably as a shoe rubbing a painful bunion. Garth’s gangly, ineffectual attempts to extract a cork from a bottle of wine really sets the scene for his character – and his resemblance to John Cleese is simply uncanny.

Chamber-maid, waitress and stand-in receptionist (and occasionally co-conspirator) Polly is captured delightfully by Alex McFarlane, as is the earnest but utterly misguided mustachioed waiter and bell-boy from Barcelona, Manuel, by Mark Dentry – both also newcomers to the stage.

The other old favourites – Major Gowen and Miss Tibbs (John Thornton and Joan Bedale) – drift about and get ensnared in the unfolding comedy of errors of mistaken identity, deceit, subterfuge, wild improvisation and ultimate mayhem in the two stories, The Hotel Inspectors and Communication Problems. Halima Beale as the obnoxious and hard-of-hearing Mrs Richards is so believable that one winces out loud at her egocentric demands and superior attitude.

Director Norman McFarlane is going to have to regard this as the first in a series of Fawlty Towers productions at the Playhouse, because it’s simply too much fun to stop now – we could all do with a bit of mirth and mayhem!

Ann Coetzee also did a splendid job with the set design, encapsulating the essence of the slightly dilapidated, yet somehow comforting atmosphere of the hotel, with all the right touches like the old typewriter, the much-abused counter bell and suchlike.

After the performance I wondered around backstage, and inhaled the dusty scents of the old sets and high wooden beams and floors of this lovely historic theatre, an absolute jewel in our midst.

For performance times (including matinees) between now and Saturday December 11, call Computicket. Tickets cost R60.

Categories: Entertainment

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