TV — on Stage! Fawlty Towers at Metro Theatre

Hours before posting my previous review, I caught Fawlty Towers at the Metro Theatre in Vancouver. Unfortunately this review comes four days too late for you to see John Cleese and Connie Booth’s creation for yourself (my bad!), but hey, there’s always Youtube.

Polly signed my programme

To summarise, Fawlty Towers is about the interaction among the owners (the pretentious yet lovable Basil and his quick-witted but equally quick-tongued wife Sybil) of and guests (colourful in a positive sense, though not in the “ethnic diversity” sense) at the namesake hotel.

Even if you hadn’t heard of it — I hadn’t until B-cat’s old coworker invited us to see the latter’s sibling on stage — you would’ve seen Monty Python at some point or another, in one form or another. (And if not, I assume because you’d been abstaining from technology for decades, just think of any English television show you’ve seen in the past and then get off the Internet, you Amish hippie.)

In either case, you should have an idea of what British humour is like. Fawlty Towers, which is three episodes of the British telly, which makes me feel a bit uneasy about paying to see it, is a very fine example of British humour. After all, it’s not only written by John Cleese, the only person everyone recognises from Monty Python, but also performed by an excellent cast headed by Chris Dellinger, who I’d say could be the best Cleese impersonator in the world if it wouldn’t sound like an insult to the former’s talents, since Dellinger brings a youthful, mischievous charisma to the character of Basil that the original, though superior in deadpanning, lacks. Which Basil is better is really up to taste.

While the aye-yai-yai-ing stereotype who is Manuel (the oppressed waiter/bellhop from Barcelona, played on stage by Tom Kavadias) is almost as jarring in a 2015 context as the blackface in the ballet La Bayadere, Fawlty Towers is otherwise as fresh and funny today as it was when people still watched TV.

While I wouldn’t have gone to this if I had seen more than one episode beforehand, I highly enjoyed the production (and admired Robin Richardson‘s beautiful and efficiently designed set!) and look forward to seeing more from director Alison Schamberger and the others involved in recreating this bit of classic English fun, if only for a few hours.