Presented by: Interactive Theatre International
Reviewed: 17 February 2017
Everyone at some point wonders what it’s like being in a particular movie or TV show. Would it be as action packed and hilarious if we were in it? Would the same amount of laughs and thrills be had? Since 1974, the British TV comedy series Fawlty Towers has garnered millions of fans. Charting the antics of harried owner Basil Fawlty, his wife Sybil and waiter Manuel, the 12 episodes it generated have become timeless classics. Due to the writing of creators John Cleese and Connie Booth, who played hotel-help Polly, the comedic situations the show provided were able to appeal to all ages. Whether viewers actually wanted to experience the crazy carry-on at the world’s maddest hotel is another question but is one that this interactive show offers.
Since 1997, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience has travelled the globe providing mayhem and meals for die-hard fans. Whilst it made headlines last year due to John Cleese’s comments about royalties, this may account why this year the show has subtly changed its title to avoid any more legal mutterings. After seeing the ‘official’ stage show last year, I was curious to see how the dining experience fared. From the moment we entered into the waiting area, the laughs started. The trio of Basil, Sybil and Manuel arrived to greet their unsuspecting guests by offering nibbles and organising tables. Naturally nothing went to plan with chaos quickly developing. After several minutes of mayhem (including me being called the wrong name!) we all entered the dining area for a feast of food and fun.
Offering a 3 course meal, the dinner was as delicious as the rapid-fire wit. Most of the diners would already be fans of the series and it was easy seeing which episodes certain moments came from. Eating bread rolls hasn’t been funnier due to the involvement of Manuel’s ‘unique’ waiting skills. At once a court jester and then collaborator in causing mischief, Manuel remained the sympathetic figure from the TV series. The same goes for Basil and Sybil, whose desperate snootiness in ‘keeping up with the Jones’ continually delighted. Whilst we ate our meal over 2 hours, the cast entertained with a collage of physical and verbal comedy that would have put smiles on the most hardened faces.
The best aspect of the whole experience was how remarkably spot-on the performers were. Even better than last year’s stage version, the cast truly had their character’s quirks and ticks down pat. It really was like seeing the original actors perform right in front of you – which is a credit to the performer’s dedication and skills. Each took turns to travel around the tables – of which there were 10 – and interacted with everyone in an engagingly amusing manner. Most got into the evening’s spirit of good natured and often bawdy fun, with the British ‘Carry On’ style humour going down a treat. There’s no hidden meaning in this show, just an entertaining ride while enjoying a well cooked and presented meal.
Not much more can be said of a production that has been going on for years. It’s a well-oiled machine by now with its slick performances and pacing very much on display. Anyone wanting a great experience should look no further than this quite peculiar dinner with characters you are grateful you don’t bump into in real life – one hopes!
Review by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: Strathmore Hotel Balcony Restaurant
Season: 17 February – 19 March 2017
Duration: 2 hrs.
Tickets: $89.00 Saturday – Sunday lunch, $79.00 Monday –Tuesday dinner, $89.00 Thursday & Sunday dinner, $99.00 Friday – Saturday dinner (includes $2.20 booking fee).
Bookings: Book online at www.bass.net.au or phone BASS on 131 246