Although there’s been a dodgy unlicensed dinner theatre knockoff of John Cleese and Connie Booth’s legendary ’70s sitcom in town for aeons now (‘Faulty Towers’, geddit), this May will mark the arrival of the first official stage adaptation of ‘Fawlty Towers’, adapted by Cleese himself.
For a long time regarded as the greatest British sitcom ever made – and repeated vigorously throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s – the cultural ubiquity of ‘Fawlty Towers’ used to be vaguely ridiculous, funny as it undoubtedly was. But the passage of time and the rise of the streaming era have reduced its all-pervasiveness.
So now looks like about the right time for Cleese’s official stage adaptation: the ex-Python is still very much with us, but the fact he’s not exactly on the cutting edge of comedy these days – and is indeed a bit of an ‘anti-woke’ grump – should be handily negated by the fact ‘Fawlty Towers’ (the play) won’t involve a huge amount of new material, consisting of adaptations of three classic episodes: ‘The Hotel Inspector’, ‘The Germans’ and ‘Communication Problems’, with a new finale from Cleese tying all three up.
Whether it’ll be a pure nostalgia fest is TBC. But it has been a decent while since the antics of tyrannical hotel owner Basil Fawlty have been part of the mainstream – in theory this should be a treat in equal measures for those who grew up with ‘Fawlty Towers’ and those too young to have experienced it before.
As you would expect, Caroline Jay Ranger’s production will not involve any original cast members. Heading the cast will be Adam Jackson-Smith’s Basil, with Anna-Jane Casey as his withering wife Sybil, Hemi Yeroham as hapless waiter Manuel and Victoria Fox as cynical maid Polly.
‘Fawlty Towers’ will be at the Shaftesbury Theatre, May 4-Sep 28. Tickets go on sale Feb 7 at 10am. Visit the official website for more information.
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