There are probably millions of now aging fans (sorry Annie Robinson and Mark Mulder) of the fabulous BBC television sitcom, Fawlty Towers. This delightful comedy was ranked first on the list of Greatest British Television Programmes, although there were only ever twelve episodes made, two seasons of six episodes each.
Fawlty Towers was originally written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, the stars of the television series, after the Monty Python comedy group stayed at a hotel where this sort of manager was in charge. Marital woes are included as a theme in the series. The starring pair were married at the time of the first series, but they were already divorces before the recording of the second series.
The fictional hotel, on which the series is premised, is situated in Torquay, England, and the character include the chambermaid, Polly, and the Spanish waiter, Manuel. The first episode was initially rejected by the BBC in a note saying “This is full of clichéd situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster.”
This local production of “Fawlty Flowers” (sic) was devised and directed by Paul Spence, and stars Annie Robinson as a bossy Sybil – and Polly and the most marvellous Manuel – and Mark Mulder as a wonderful put-upon Basil (and he actually looks like John Cleese). They are a talented duo. The team of Spence, Robinson and Mulder is KZN based, and I am delighted that they braved a Gauteng winter for this trip to Sandton’s first theatre. I hope the lack of cold weather holds out for them.
Fawlty Flowers is a marvellous bit of entertainment, suitable for the whole family and really a great evening out. I recommend it highly. Well, unless you don’t like English humour, in which case I recommend that you stay home and watch Casper de Vries reruns on TV.
As an aside, the Sandton Theatre on the Square, now sponsored by Auto & General, and which sponsor’s name the Auto & General Theatre on the Square assumes, turned 21 on 1 August (opening night for the production). The audience and cast were invited to have some cake and a party after the show. I have seen many of the productions there, although there have been over 2000 productions and one off concerts of various types, usually classical music (Friday lunch times) and jazz concerts. Well done to Daphne Kuhn and her fabulous team, two of whom are referenced in the Fawlty Flowers play – the stage manager, Regina Dube, and the technical manager, Loftus Mohale. Thank you, thank you, thank you Daphne Kuhn for this special theatre.
Venue: Auto and General Theatre on the Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Cnr Sandton Dr and Rivonia Rd, Sandton. Telephone: 011 883 8606.
Time: Tue to Sat 8.15pm | Sat 6pm | Sun 4pm
Cost: R75 – R150