Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, presented by Interactive Theatre International was a fantastic night out, filled with hilarious comedy, confident improvisation and excellent impersonations, all while having the chance to meet new people while you shared a three course meal.
Guests were seated at large ten seat tables, so depending on the numbers in your party, you may well be sharing the hilarity with complete strangers. And the nature of the Fawlty Towers themed comedy often created strong reactions that had to be shared – the connections were soon made, and conversations started. There was also another cause for bonding – everyone was amusingly terrified they would be the subject of Basil’s ire if they caught his attention in any way. It was far more pleasant to catch Manuel’s attention. On our table he spent several minutes kneeling to cheer up a young child who was upset, which was lovely.
The show was performed both between courses, and in the serving of them. Several well-known themes from the original show came up, such as Basil the Ra*cough*Hamster, the fire drill and Basil’s aversion to Germans, as well as frequent improvisation based on interactions with the audience. Manuel’s difficulty with the English language resulted in a lot of physical comedy, often including the audience, and Basil’s interactions, as expected, was to frequently insult the diners. One such instance resulted in the best laugh of the evening, which even caused the consummate professionals playing Basil (Luke) and Manuel (Anthony) to crack. Basil made a rude comment to an elderly lady, who he had been heckling all night, and the look she gave him stopped him in his tracks, and eventually made him lose his composure and start laughing. We later found out she was celebrating her 102nd birthday, and she was a great sport, engaging with Basil in a cheeky way a number of times throughout the show (although I thought Basil was taking a little bit of a risk, yelling in her face from a few cm’s away!).
Bail, Manuel and Cybil (Monique) were all played very convincingly, and other than the brief moment of laughter described, were all consistently in character throughout the evening, even outside of the dining room. They participated in the serving of the food, although luckily they were also supported by trained wait staff. Sitting anywhere in Basil’s path as he steered a trolley full of bowls of soup was a very bad idea, and the decorative swirl of cream in the spring pea soup was thoroughly stirred in by the violent driving by the time it arrived at some tables. The food was advertised as ‘seventies style’ but was cooked well and was actually quite nice. The soup was followed by a tender grilled chicken breast with two vegetable purees and a single spear of asparagus, and the dessert was a passionfruit pavlova.
The food was pleasant, but it was the comedy we were there to see, and it rarely stopped. It was perfect for lovers of the original TV show with both the identifiable reference to specific plot points, and the substantial improvisation which was also always in character. It is probably not the sort of show that would appeal to people who were not familiar with the TV show but was suitable for anyone who found the TV show at least mildly amusing – you didn’t have to be a die-hard fan (I’m not) to enjoy the performance. I think it is much funnier when you are in the midst of it as the comedy ensues.
The two-hour show was hilarious, and combined with the meal, well worth the ticket price. I heartily recommend a night out at the Stamford Plaza this week to see Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.