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Peter Novakovich – How great is this? I found it funnier than the tv show.

John Cleese has taken three episodes and re-worked them for the stage, giving us this, the official Live version. By “re-worked them for the stage” I don’t mean a lazy dumping of ad-verbatim TV scripts into three separate acts. One of the clever things about the stage version is how the three episodes have been woven seamlessly into one play over two Acts, so that the three plots run together cohesively (but Act 1 is dominated by the Salesman while the Germans don’t appear until Act 2). Instead of getting sitcom episodes we get a proper play in its own right that is a brilliant farce observing “a day in the life” of the hotel and its staff.

Director Caroline Jay Ranger does a genius job making the show work.

The cast are perfect. For me the show was stolen by Deborah Kennedy -one of Australia’s grande dames of theatre- playing the demanding battle axe Mrs Richards, she of the dodgy hearing aid. She chewed the scenery (and the Cast) even when she was doing nothing but sitting in her room. On that point I’m glad one of my favourite lines from the TV show – the one about the piece of brain- was kept in.

The timing is exhilarating: The element of “bedroom farce” is perfectly realised, and if entries, exits, and pauses were Olympic events then this Cast and Director would be gold medallists. My only complaint is that I missed some of the lines because I was laughing so hard.

So does the show offer anything more than just a well-realised nostalgia-fest for ardent fans? Yes. Seeing this on stage makes you appreciate why Fawlty Towers has stood the test of time.

You’d be fawlty not to see it.

For the full review – please go to