Fawlty Towers
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27 February 2010
Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton
Stephen Macvicar

Thank you very much for inviting me to Chase Theatre Company’s production of “Fawlty Towers” recently at the Charles Cryer Theatre. Thanks also to Clare Gollop for making the necessary ticket arrangements – (the theatre though had made a mistake and oversubscribed) – no harm done.

I was delighted to be invited back to Chase Theatre Company for this production. I have always enjoyed your period costume dramas in particular but two years ago the society undertook the scripts of ‘Dad’s Army’ which proved to be very successful. I suspect on the back of that success, the society decided to return to that genre of humorous production with three episodes from Fawlty Towers.

When one thinks of classic ‘sitcoms’ from the past, one automatically thinks of Fawlty Towers as a national treasure and those wonderful characters which we feel we know so well. From memory, I think they only ever made eight episodes which is probably why it retains its appeal in some regards. I have noticed a recent insurgence of societies performing the scripts of well known sitcoms such as Dad’s Army, Allo Allo and now probably the best, Fawlty Towers. All of these vehicles lend themselves perfectly for stage productions – some of them may well have been shot before a live studio audience. The humour remains in Fawlty Towers and will never significantly date because it has been so well written by John Cleese and his significant other, Connie Booth.

When you attend a play which is so well known, it is difficult not to make a mental comparison with the original both in style and characterisation. I thought Chase made a remarkable fist of things both in terms of setting and interpretation of the characters. The fixed set with counter and various tables worked a treat and gave the flavour of the period. Costumes and wigs were just about right, even down to Sybil’s fantastic wig and the rather dapper Sir Richard Morris.

Congratulations to Director Denis Steer for directing a very entertaining production. The sketches looked well rehearsed with the usual Chase attention to detail.

A larger cast than normal was assembled to reflect the different episodes. Many of the parts are fairly small so I have only written a few notes on the five principals who featured significantly in all three episodes;

Basil – Barry Gollop – I thought Barry completely captured the essence of what we love about the character of Basil. Barry delivered the ‘under the breath’ asides to a ‘t’ and showed good physicality in the part

Sybil – Clare Gollop – Similarly Clare captured that menacing front which Sybil possesses – the ability to cut through Basil like a knife through butter.

Both Barry and Clare delivered very well judged characterisations but still retained some of their own personality in their respective roles.

Manuel – David Bonner – I enjoyed David’s portrayal of Manuel. David was able to be both physically and vocally manic at times, yet more subtle on relevant occasions. A real crowd pleaser.

Polly – Charlotte Gollop – Similarly I enjoyed Charlotte’s role as Polly the maid – always trying to help Basil out of sticky situations. If I was being very picky, Perhaps a little more urgency was needed in some of the situations, which in turn would have increased the intensity of the comedy.

(The) Major – Denis Steer – Denis was a straight batted, stiff upper lipped Major which we know so well. Suitably funny when confused over Basil’s betting gains

I must mention that the others in the production came in and out of the various scenes and gave stout support to the main principals. Good strength in depth and a hard working support team were much in evidence.

Congratulations to Chase for an entertaining and comical evening.

Once again thank you for inviting me to the Charles Cryer Theatre and best wishes for your next production – the interestingly sounding ‘Ladies in Retirement’.

I look forward to seeing you again in the not too distant future.


Kindest Regards


Stephen Macvicar
Area 3
10 Verona Drive