Steptoe & Son / Fawlty Towers

February 2010


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Steptoe and Son - by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson 
Fawlty Towers - by John Cleese & Connie Booth
Performed -  Wed 24th to Sat 27th February 2010 at Blackfriars Theatre

Synopsis


Review
This comedy double bill featured extracts from two very popular television series that were presented in such detail that none of the original humour was lost in transferring them from the small screen to the stage. This was largely due to the superb casting of the main characters, skilful direction and very clever acting.
Steptoe & Son
Jon Molson gave a first rate performance as Harold Steptoe, even managing to adopt the speech patterns of the late Harry H. Corbett, while Danny Chester-Bush, suitably aged in appearance thanks to his make-up, acquitted himself admirably as his father, Albert Steptoe. Marilyn Cobb, Melissa Marlowe, Glyn Ruskin and Alan Whyte all executed their supporting roles well in this stage version.
Fawlty Towers
Dave Edgar who is of similar build to John Cleese (perhaps even a little taller) gave an outstanding performance as Basil Fawlty. Rachel Pick (Sybil), Kathryn Walker (Polly), Trevor Fenton (Manuel), John Lingard (the Major), Lucy Taylor (Miss Tibbs), Alma Watts (Miss Gatsby) and Liz Fenton (Mrs Richards) were quickly recognisable as principal characters from this show and there was assistance from numerous other ‘hotel guests’.

Both productions were serviced by an efficient stage crew and had well designed sets that were dressed in great detail. Particular praise must go to Liz Worsley, whose handiwork provided the huge bear and magnificent moose that featured prominently in these shows. Well-done Liz! These successful productions attracted sizeable audiences and provided great entertainment.
Peter Breach NODA

Far From Fawlty Performances
As the theme tune from Steptoe & Son rang out, a full-house Blackfriars sat in nostalgic anticipation of Boston Playgoers’ comedy double bill.

Danny Chester-Bush’s Albert gurned and snarled with alarming and consummate ease. He was a perfect comic foil for Jon Molson, outstanding as Harold. With an impeccable impersonation and an arsenal of witty remarks timed to perfection, he captured the internal conflict between a dreamer and trapped son.

Strong support came from the wonderfully eccentric Madame Fontana (Melissa Marlowe), her sweet but conniving mother (Marilyn Cobb), a calming vicar (Alan Whyte) and a doting elderly couple (Alan Whyte and Glyn Ruskin).

The set was brilliant, complete with skeleton and bear; credit must go to Producer Liz Worsley and Director Mike Sheridan-Shinn who ensured the pathos between father and son was not lost amongst the gags.

After the interval the audience was greeted with the Fawlty Towers hotel reception.

David Edgar had Basil Fawlty down to a tee. His mannerisms and downright rudeness were joys to behold as he goose-stepped across the stage, donning a German accent and trying desperately not to mention the war.

Sybil (Rachel Pick), with audacious hair and precarious high heels, was wonderful. Not a single detail was missed, be it the walk, the shrill voice or how she played with the telephone wire whilst taking a call.

From the moment Manuel (Trevor Fenton) scuttled on stage, the audience was in tears of laughter. With memorable lines, “I know nothing!” and “Que?” he was mesmerising as the loveable but erratic waiter.

Kathryn Walker had great stage presence as the steady Polly whilst John Lingard was at one with the dotty Major. Hard of hearing Mrs Richards (Liz Fenton) and sweet-natured Misses Tibbs & Gatsby (Alma Watts and Lucy Taylor) completed a perfect ensemble cast. 

Director Paul Gibson was responsible for another superb set design, and Liz Worsley surpassed herself in creating that “naughty old moose” which thwarted Fawlty on two occasions. 

There were times when the cast didn’t pause for the audience’s laughter and as such some lines were drowned out. However, this did not detract from a fantastic night of entertainment and a healthy reminder that contemporary comedy isn’t a patch on the golden oldies.
Ben Long, Boston Standard 10/03/2010

Cast
Actors names on right:

Steptoe & Son

Seance In A Wet Rag and Bone Yard:
Harold Steptoe - Jon Molson
Albert Steptoe - Danny Chester-Bush
Dorothy Duddy - Marilyn Cobb
Madame Fontana - Melissa Marlowe
Mr Sheldon - Alan Whyte
Mrs Sheldon - Glyn Ruskin

Men of Letters:
Harold Steptoe - Jon Molson
Albert Steptoe - Danny Chester-Bush
Vicar - Alan Whyte

Fawlty Towers

The Residents:
Basil Fawlty - David Edgar
Sybil Fawlty - Rachel Pick
Manuel - Trevor Fenton
Polly Shearman - Kathryn Walker
Major Gowen - John Lingard
Miss Gatsby - Lucy Taylor
Miss Tibbs - Alma Watts

Communication Problems:
Mrs Richards - Liz Fenton
Mr Firkins - Bob Green
Mr Mackintosh - Scott Kibby
Mr Kerr - Paul Gibson
Mr Thurston - Andy Hall

The Germans:
Nurse - Gail Lingard
Doctor - Alan Whyte
Mr Sharp - Bob Green
Mrs Sharp - Marilyn Cobb
Large Woman - Liz Fenton
German Couple - Liz Worsley, Andy Hall
Germans - Scott Kibby, Melissa Marlowe, Dan Poulson, Rachel Rowett
The Moose - as himself!

Production Team: Steptoe & Son

Director - Mike Sheridan-Shinn
Producer - Liz Worsley
Stage Manager - Bob Green
Set Design - Liz Worsley & Mike Sheridan-Shinn
Set Construction - Paul Gibson & members of society
Stage Crew - Wayne Waite / David Lane
Costume - Liz Worsley & Alma Watts
Furniture & Properties - Liz Worsley & Stuart Worsley
Lighting & Sound - Paul Gibson / John Knight
Special Effects Make-up - David Dukes
Poster & Programme - Melissa Marlowe
Publicity - Liz Febton

Production Team: Fawlty Towers

Director - Paul Gibson
Producer - Rachel Rowett
Stage Manager - Bob Green
Set Design - Paul Gibson
Set Construction - Paul Gibson & members of society
Stage Crew - Wayne Waite / David Lane
Costume - Liz Worsley & Alma Watts, Violet Truelove Wardrobe
Furniture & Properties - Liz Worsley & Alma Watts
Lighting & Sound - Paul Gibson
Poster & Programme - Melissa Marlowe
Publicity - Liz Fenton