In Denver, Fawlty Towers Hotel has room for laughs
Time: 1977; place: Fawlty Towers, a Victorian hotel in Torquay, England, operated by one Basil Fawlty and his wife, Sybil.
Four segments of the popular British TV series, written by John Cleese (Monty Python) and Connie Booth, are packaged for an onstage visit with cranky Basil Fawlty and his various guests and staff. Acts are called “Hotel Inspectors,” “The Anniversary,” “Communication Problems” (my favorite) and “Waldorf Salad.”
All take place on Colin Roybal’s two-story Victorian set — quite a feat in the small Bug Theatre where Equinox Theatre Company performs. Director Shannon McCarthy manages to move a large cast in, out, up and down with considerable skill, although some scenes are so busy, they are hard to follow.
But silliness reigns throughout, so one just rolls with it.
Matt Maxwell’s quarrelsome Basil Fawlty manages to be uniformly rude to all his guests and gets similar treatment from forceful Mrs. Richards (Carole Maschka), who issues orders and doesn’t want to turn on her hearing aid because it will run down the batteries. She doesn’t like her room and thinks she’s been robbed …. Her ocean view is right there, Basil says, “Between the land and the sky!”
Questions/misunderstandings about money, identity, food and drink (including screwdrivers and Waldorf salad) and general day-to-day operations give assorted dingbat guests a chance to shine.
Comic timing skills are not quite there at all times, but presumably those skills will improve as the show continues its run. It’s hard to maintain the level as written by comic genius Cleese — and keep a consistent British accent going too.
Hotel waiter Manuel (Mark Shonsey) is especially funny and Sybil Fawlty has a fine snort with her laugh. Company director Deb Flomberg designed a nice collection of costumes and makes a couple of brief appearances in the cast.
This offers a lighthearted evening in a nifty part of Denver — the Highland neighborhood. Circa 1921 Patsy’s is right across the street with old-fashioned Italian food, and several longstanding Denver art galleries (Pirate, Zip, Edge) are on the block — open on Friday nights.