A lovely open set with many props which all suited the scenes. The lighting and sound worked well and the costumes, hair and make up were in keeping with 1940’s France during its occupation of Nazi Germany.
The thing about this show is that it is still much loved and the public are very familiar with the characters. Casting is crucial and I know North Manchester had to postpone the original run due to cast changes. There are too many to mention all of the cast but the lead of Rene played by Tony Cenci was great. Tony was rarely off stage and had clearly worked hard on lines, accent and his many entrances/exits. His dry delivery was great for this character.
Tony played opposite Susan Longley who was wonderful as Edith. They worked well together and I loved the scene where Edith entertains the patrons with her dreadful singing to create a diversion.
Jane Pearson was super as Michelle from the French Resistance. Her delivery and comic timing were excellent. Clearlytime had been spent on the accents and characterisations and this very much paid off.
Jennifer Gordon and Kelly Parker were excellent as Yvette and Mimi the two waitresses in love with Rene. Both looked like their TV counterparts and delivery of their lines as the foils to Rene’s sarcasm was great.
Mary Doyle as Helga and Kieran Kelly as Herr Flick worked brilliantly together, capturing many laughs and again had great timing to deliver the script with finesse.
Dominic Pastore was fabulous as Lieutenant Gruber with great mannerisms and again his comic timing was superb. Martin Taylor was funny and confident as Captain Bertorelli the Italian, opposite Paul McConnochie who played the grumpy Colonel who is trying to recover the painting.
David Long and David Swift put in sterling performances as LeClerc and Officer Crabtree, roles which although small are important to get right.
The other actors filled their parts well and the direction kept the play moving along at a good pace. The set construction and scene setting allowed minimum time needed between scenes. Well done to everyone involved both onstage and off and for a lovely evening.
The set was well built on this limited staging and backstage area. There were many scene changes but the crew coped with each very well. The lighting had some issues especially on some of the scene changes with the crew in full light and the players in darkness or muted lighting. Good use was made of the auditorium for some scenes. The 3 episodes chosen were The Arrival, The Window & the Weather and The Christmas Lunch Incident.
The costumes looked great and fitted each character. The difficulty with shows such as these is that they come with no stage script (just the TV shows scripts) and they are so well know that you cannot deviate from the characters too far. There are between 10-15 scene changes in each episode which presents problems in a small area such as the Simpson Hall but I thought Vanessa Randle the Director had used the spaces well and tried hard to not hold up the action on stage.
The cast were fabulous, really digging deep with each character and pulling it off. There were some obvious age discrepancies but in amateur theatre this cannot always be avoided. By 20 minutes in the discrepancies didn’t matter so effective was the acting.
The key character is of course Geraldine Grainger, the Vicar and this was beautifully played by Lindsay Gresswell. Her comic timing was great and her charm of course eventually wins everyone round (including the audience)
Lisa Boyle was fabulous as the not so bright Alice Tinker. Well done on the accent and the complete naivety of the role. Dominic Pastore although a little young for David Horton played the part really well with a pompous attitude as he realises he is the only one in the village that is anywhere near normal. His son Hugo was nicely played by Andrew Borg-Fenech again with a nice simplicity.
Nick Lowe did a great job on Jim Trott, the No, No, Yes man and David Long was an endearing Frank Pickle who looked and sounded like the TV version. Toni Openshaw was a lovely Mrs Cropley and the other supporting parts were well played. For me the one player who absolutely nailed his part in every way was Martin Taylor as Owen Newitt. Roger Lloyd Pack will have thought he had been reincarnated watching this performance. Well done Martin.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening which flew by. Well done everyone involved in this production.
NODA SHOW REPORT
FAWLTY TOWERS - OCTOBER 2013
BY SHARON DRUMMOND
This classic comedy show from the mid 70’s has aged very well from a comedy perspective but despite only showing for 12 episodes is fairly iconic with characters that are instantly recognisable. This certainly needs taking into consideration when any society decides to tackle this material as inevitably it will be compared with the TV show.
North Manchester AODS chose “A Touch of Class”, “Communication Problems” and “The Hotel Inspectors” as the 3 episodes to perform. The set looked great and worked well with the dining room becoming a bedroom for part of the second episode. There was a large supporting cast for the 3 episodes with some players having multiple roles and also moving scenery and props on and off the stage to ease the traffic in the small playing and backstage space available. That worked really well and allowed the action to flow between scenes. Well done to Vanessa Randall on the direction of the 3 episodes which worked really well.
The lighting and sound were good with the only thing missing being the theme tune to the show. The costumes were very in keeping with the characters and the props worked well and were very 1970’s.
The permanent residents of Miss Gatsby, Miss Tibbs and Major Gowen were well played by Colette Green, Julie Skerritt and David Gordon respectively.
David Long put in a great performance as Manuel the waiter from Barcelona and not only delivered his lines well but played slapstick well too. Ruth Murray put in a lovely performance as Polly and delivered her lines expertly especially when it must have been so hard not to laugh at Basil and Manuel’s antics.
Jane Pearson played a really good Sybil including the very annoying snort/laugh that this character was so renowned for. She chastised Basil in just the right way whilst all the time you actually felt quite sorry for Basil.
Dom Pastore played Basil and had worked hard on the voice and mannerisms of this very well known character. He did a fantastic job on the part and I understand this was his first lead role. The part requires a confidence and commitment to learning what are difficult lines but also in a lot of instances iconic ones that can’t be messed with. Very well done Dne for bringing this character to life.
This was a lovely evening’s entertainment and very enjoyable to watch.