Theatre-goers in Llangollen on Thursday 8th November saw an excellent performance of TV classic Fawlty Towers, by local drama society Llangollen Twenty Club Amateur Players. The large cast breathes new life into three episodes of the sitcom, with particularly strong performances coming from the central quartet. With the three well-chosen episodes being The Hotel Inspectors, A Touch of Class, and The Germans, it’s unsurprising that all of the action is rather familiar, but seeing it live is still extremely entertaining.
Ally Goodman and Helen Belton, playing the iconic roles of snobbish bullying hotelier Basil Fawlty and his ‘little nest of vipers’ Sybil, have superb chemistry together and look and sound just like original actors John Cleese and Prunella Scales. Meanwhile, Richard Mascarenhas as Manuel seems close to stealing every scene he’s in, with a great mix of physical comedy and superb delivery of his lines. Last night, he got an excellent reaction from the audience virtually ever time he stepped on the stage, with a particular highlight being his pathetic gratitude as he found out one of the guests could speak Spanish in A Touch of Class. Anna Turner’s Polly is just as good, with both her and Ally showing brilliant comic timing in their frequent arguments as she constantly tries to stop him making an even bigger fool of himself, with little success. While it’s obviously these four who the play centres around, the supporting cast of around two dozen, several playing more than one part, is very strong.
As for the script – there’s no point even trying to criticise it, is there? All three parts are faithful adaptations of the original episodes which have given so many people so much pleasure over the decades since they were first broadcast. The vast majority of the action in each episode takes place in the hotel itself, with just brief detours into the town of Torquay in A Touch of Class, and some scenes in and around a hospital bed in The Germans. Keith Hall and the rest of the stage management team have done a fantastic job of constructing a very impressive set, and all in all, this is one of the best local productions I’ve seen for many years.
Massively recommended – I believe tonight’s performance is sold out, although there may be some last minute returns available if you show up at Llangollen Town Hall at 7 pm when the box office opens. I think there are still a very limited number of seats for tomorrow’s two performances, at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm, which can be purchased from Hardy’s The Card Shop, Gwyn Davies Butchers or Courtyard Books in Llangollen, or by phoning 01978 860397. They’re priced at £6 for adults and £5 for concessions.