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BWW Reviews: Equinox Theatre Presents Amusing British Wit with A NIGHT AT FAWLTY TOWERS

Equinox Theatre Company continues their cult season with the regional premiere of the hysterical comedy A NIGHT AT FAWLTY TOWERS playing now through June 15th. You are cordially invited to experience a night at the best-loved bad hotel in the world. Written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, Fawlty Towers is a madcap, fast-paced farce that will keep you rolling in the aisles with laughter. Meet the snobbish, manic Basil; his over-coiffured domineering wife, Sybil; the hopeless but ever-hopeful waiter Manuel; the calm and capable Polly - and of course the steady stream of abused guests. Enjoy four episodes from the classic British Television Comedy that perfectly demonstrates the classic John Cleese-style of humor and mixes it with plenty of slapstick comedy fun. It's a night at the Inn that you will never forget.

Honestly, I was a little biased coming into this production since I grew up with these classics. One of my fondest memories of my Grandma and Grandpa Mulhern was getting together in their living room and watching such British comedies such as Upstairs Downstairs, Are You Being Served, and Fawlty Towers on PBS (Grandma and Grandpa - this review is for you!). Here's a fun factoid for you - Did you know that this show only aired 12 episodes and is hailed as one of the greatest television shows in British history? First I must commend whoever's idea it was to put together a mixed tape of vintage TV music theme songs that completely put me in the mood! What can I say about this show - it was witty, adorable, charming, and oh so British! I find that British comedy, with their blend of over the top staging and precision timing in delivery is actually quite difficult; however, this talented ensemble met this challenge much to the delight of the audience. Of the four "episodes" The Anniversary was assuredly the best with great accents and excellent staging of so many cast members. On the other hand, Waldorf Salad seemed to lack focus and energy and I probably would have cut this one and kept the other three excellent scenes.
Matt Maxwell was the embodiment of Basil Fawlty and played him with hectic hilarity and British charm. This show truly belonged to him and was an absolute delight to watch. Linnea Lewis as his grounded wife, Sybil was also quite good, but I would have like to see more inflection in her voice. Even with that said, her infectious laugh made me smile every time and she so could have added more into her performance. Natasha Gleichmann was a delight as the maid of all trades, Polly. Again, I would have like to see more range in her voice inflections, but the physical comedy was spot on. Mark Shonsey totally stole the show as the busser, Manuel and had the audience in stitches the entire time. From his accent to his wonderful physicality, he totally embraced this role and just had fun with it! The rest of the ensemble should also be commended for grasping the British wit and comedic timing and making it an enjoyable evening!
Director Shannon McCarthy has a keen sense of British humor and portrayed this beloved British classic with grace, and charm and hilarious comedic staging and timing! Even though the show lose a little steam at the end, it still was funny and nostalgic. The costumes by Deb Flomberg showed such variety (with one exception - I observed that Andrew Hunter didn't change costumes or accents for the first three scenes) is her costumes. From the staff to the many guests, she gave each scene its own flair. I loved this quaint and homely set by designer Colin Roybal and it was believable as a bed and breakfast Inn. I adored the layout and the levels and making use of the entire space to kept this show energized. The attention to detail was also appreciated, especially the extent of props behind the kitchen doors that gave the set even more dimension.
If you want a nostalgic romp into a beloved British classic, then go see this hilarious and witty show. A NIGHT AT FAWLTY TOWERS is delighting audiences now through June 15th. For tickets or more information, check out Equinox online at Performances will be at The Bug Theatre - 3654 Navajo Street in Denver, CO.
PHOTO CREDIT: DenverMind Media

Matt Maxwell as Basil Fawlty and LInnea Lewis as Sybil Fawlty

Matt Maxwell as Basil and Mark Shonsey as Manuel

Matt Maxwell as Basil and Natasha Gleichmann as Polly

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