Dining at Faulty Towers is a riotous and exuberant nostalgia trip. This interactive Australian theatre company revives the original characters of Faulty Towers, the celebrated 70s television show, with astounding accuracy. Basil Faulty is intimidating and misanthropic; the inept yet delightful Spanish waiter Manuel misinterprets every order; and Sybil Faulty lords over the mayhem, initially with a snide smile and later on with shrieking.
Jordan Edmeades was particularly impressive as John Cleese’s iconic disgruntled hotel owner. His expressions and physicality, bulging eyes and hasty darts, are impeccable; the infamous Cleese walk is faultless. I noticed Edmeades’ Australian twang seep out once in a ferocious bark at Manuel, but this was quickly covered up and did not mar the overall consistency of his performance.
Although the slapstick and shouting matches may slightly tire, brilliant moments of one to one interaction lie in between. Basil and Manuel’s relationship is dynamic, with hair-raising comedic violence that never fails to draw laughter from a rapturous audience, while Sybil’s asides generate private chuckles among the guests. She even attempted to find me a husband, but Manuel did not seem keen. The cast thrives on spontaneity: two plucky kids created a golden opportunity for a raucous chase around the tables when they made a run for the loos, despite having been firmly told to stay in their seats. On this particular night the audience was small and intimate, ensuring that each diner received a dose of Basil’s sharp tongue and ill treatment.
Being a fan of Fawlty Towers, I arrived gleefully expecting slapstick and chaos, and gladly discovered a similar eagerness and trepidation amongst my fellow diners. It’s possible that the show caters better to the familiar audience, but I have no doubt that the buffoonery will draw in crowds as it has done for the past 15 years.
As for the food itself, it was surprisingly delicious, and thankfully much less of it than I expected ended up on the floor. The real waiters do a sterling job and share a sly smile with the audience as the shambles continues around them.