Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

Come and meet the Faultys, the Fawltys’ delightful doppelgangers. It’s a national outrage that the BBC Fawlty Towers series was limited to a mere twelve delightful episodes. However, despite the limited material, the popularity of Basil and Sybil’s fictional hotel has stood the test of time. Its influence has even made its way down under, as proves Australian Interactive Theatre International’s Faulty Towers, The Dining Experience, which allows us to pick up where we left off with the affable hotel staff whose misunderstandings, poor customer service, and loveable uselessness are a fundamental part of our national comedic references.

Manuel’s charmingly dodgy table service is complemented by that of a team of skilled waiters, guaranteeing that good service isn’t sacrificed at the price of comedy.

Upon arriving at B’est Restaurant, we are first directed to an outside space beside it for pre-dinner drinks. It is here that we make the acquaintance of the Faulty Towers staff - in the most unconventional fashion, of course. After some hors d’oeuvres chaotically served by Manuel (who yes, is still a ‘training’ waiter), some carrying on about the seating plan, and jibes at guests’ names and attire, we are seated in the restaurant by Sybil herself.

Although the restaurant set-up stretching across two rooms makes it difficult for all members of the audience to see every every moment of the performance, the hosts do a good job of working their way around the tables for individual banter with the guests. Between courses, the core performances take place as Basil, Sybil and Manuel reenact well-loved scenes from the BBC series, as well as original material that’s perfectly in the vein of the original work. The actors are good at thinking on their feet and react quick-wittedly to challenging comments and remarks thrown at them by audience members.

Manuel’s charmingly dodgy table service is complemented by that of a team of skilled waiters, guaranteeing that good service isn’t sacrificed at the price of comedy. As we tuck into our three-course meal we enjoy the company of our bickering hosts: Benedict Holme has perfected Basil’s intonations and mannerisms down to a pin, Karina Garnett will have you jumping out of your seat as she bursts into Sybil’s hyperventilating cackle, and Leigh Kelly’s air of perpetual confusion remains as immovable as Andrew Sachs’.

The meal itself is decent, though unspectacular. It’s mediocrity is perhaps even all the more true to what you might expect upon visiting Fawlty Towers. Indeed, the food seems to be of little importance to the diners, even those who found something unsavoury floating in their soup –the sit in awe of the performers.

You’ll struggle to find fault with Faulty Towers, The Dining Experience. I can guarantee that you will leave B’est Restaurant with a belly full of food, a smile on your face, and rush home to devour all twelve precious episodes of the original series yet again.  

Reviews by Maria Hagan

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

With Basil, Sybil and Manuel on hand, and only a third of the show scripted, anything can happen as audiences take a seat in the Faulty Towers restaurant. On the menu: all the best gags, shambolic service and a three-course meal in ‘the most exciting, pacy and disciplined piece of improv theatre to be seen … outstanding!’ (FringeReview.co.uk). This is fully immersive, site-specific comedy theatre that’s acclaimed internationally by audiences and critics alike. Just don’t mention the war! ‘Deliciously entertaining … not to be missed! (Whats-On-London.co.uk). ‘Hilarious, delicious … a Fringe legend’ (Skinny).

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