Fawlty Towers Vs Commedia
The aim of this essay is to examine the drama elements used in “Faulty Towers” and to compare and contrast this British comedy with the Italian street theatre, Commedia Dell arte.
“Faulty Towers” episode “Kipper and the Corpse” uses many of the same comical devices as Commedia. This drama is based in a hotel and focuses on the misfortunes of the owners and the staff as they try to run this business.
There are four main characters in the 1970s British comedy. These characters include Basil Fawlty who is the owner of the Hotel. Basil has constant mood swings and is quite money hungry.
Cybil Fawlty is Basil’s wife and she nags Basil a lot and always has something to winge about. Basil and Cybil’s relationship is comical as it not the ultimate marriage.
There are two servants, Polly and Manuel. Polly is a maid who is intellectual and humorous. Polly often assists Basil to get out of trouble.
Manuel is the Bus Boy who is Spanish and cant speak English fluently. Manuel often misunderstands people. For instance, one of the guests asks for a bowl of warm milk for her dog. She then asks him to place the bowl on the table; Manuel then places the pillow on the table. The guest replies by asking clearly for the bowl on the table and the pillow under the dog.
Manuel is very short and this creates humour.
The action of this satirical play revolves around a guest passing away and the staffs efforts to dispose of him as soon as possible.
Commedia Dell Arte is a form of improvised drama which originated in Italy in the Sixteenth century.
Commedia uses stock characters and is a form of theatre for the common man.
Commedia techniques are often used as a base for many popular comedies of today including, Seinfield, Third Rock from the Sun and The Simpsons.
Commedia contains eight stock characters all of which can be identified a Masters, Servants or Lovers.
There are four servants in Commedia, Arllechino, Brighella, Tartaglia and Columbina.
Arllechino is a very agile and skillful man who enjoys playing tricks on people and stealing things. Arllechino is very quick.
Brighella is dull and has a large appetite. He is very big and has a slow, deep voice.
Columbina is a female servant who flirts and seeks a lot of attention. She uses he body to get what she wants and she loves money.
The Masters consist of IL Capitano who has an obsession with his sword and is often associated with double meanings.
Commedia uses the elements of speech, body language, physical movements and double meanings to create humour through these stock characters.
It is a very physical form of comedy with lots of pratfalls and stumbling.
The use of double meanings is fairly common, throughout Commedia for instance IL Capitanos sword is symbolic to his penis.
Exaggeration is also commonly used as a comical device. If you take Arllechino as an example, he is always moving and using large physical movements.
Sexual Innuendo is also part of Commedia. Columbina expresses this element alot through her movement. She is always playing with her hair and moves her body in a rather sexual way especially in her hips.
The two comedies exaggerate everyday issues and physical movement. They both show how people with money are treated better than people without money.
Although these two comedies were created many eras apart they are both very similar.
The most similar feature is the characters, for instancePolly represents Columbina although she does not have as much sexual tension. Manuel represents Brighella in the personality aspect and Basil represents Pantalone as they both have a passion for money and they are both masters. Arllechino can also be found present beyond Pantalone in Basil as he is rather foolish and sneaky.
There are many differences between Commedia Dell Arte and “Faulty Towers.”
“Faulty Towers” is a more modern drama produced for the television audience whereas Commedia was produced for the Live street theatre medium.
There is higher status shown toward the female characters in “Faulty Towers.”
The setting in “Faulty Towers” is a lot more modern compared to Commedia.
I believe that these two comedies are very similar in the way that the characters are produced. Both of these styles of genre contain exaggeration, double meanings and sexual innuendo. Both of these comedies provide an immense amount of entertainment.