Presented by: Interactive Theatre International
Reviewed: 2 March 2018
Since 1997, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience has soared in popularity. This isn’t surprising given the immense success of the hit TV show it is based on. When it burst onto TV screens in the 1970’s, Fawlty Towers – about eternally harried hotel owner Basil Fawlty (John Cleese), his wife Sybil (Prunella Scales), their hapless waiter Manuel (Andrew Sachs) and waitress Polly (Connie Booth) – the series became an instant sensation. Now in the era of non-stop nostalgia, it’s a given the show would return in some form with the dining experience offering a ring-side seat to the very ‘faulty’ carry-on. Those who have never been to one of these dining experiences are in for a delicious treat. Not only is the food tasty but so are the performances. Essentially a ‘greatest hits’ of popular moments from the 12 episodes series, Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience sets off the laugh-factor at high wattage from the very start.
Within the cosy confines of the Strathmore Hotel on North Terrace, the mayhem begins straight away and fans of the show will know the set pieces by heart. Even those not as well versed in Fawlty Towers lore will find much to enjoy in this consistently entertaining production. Basically performance theatre to the highest degree, the Dining Experience ensures the punters have a difficult time nibbling the food. With so much mirth and silliness on display it’s hard swallowing any delectable morsel, let alone the antics of Basil and co.
Making it come alive of course are the performers. Many of them have been involved in this work for years and have their character’s shtick down to a fine art. Not only do they recreate classic moments from the TV series, they also show their excellent ad-lib abilities. With a fresh audience every night, no two shows are the same. This would keep even the most sturdy of thespians on their toes and the cast did a fantastic job in keeping the laughs coming. Moving around the tables causing mischief, the trio of Basil, Sybil and Manuel had a grand time pushing the humorous envelope as they generated edgy fun. Some audience participation is required which only adds to the ludicrous scenarios. The show could easily not work but it does due to its construction of set pieces and spot-on deliveries. The audience were there to have a great time and it was pleasing seeing them join in the nonsense. It can only be as much fun as the mood the audience is in, with the audience for opening night a very rowdy bunch indeed!
My companion for the evening had never been to one of these shows and had a great time. That’s perhaps the measure of its success – taking a novice to it and gauging their reactions. Almost like the Fawlty Towers version of a Rocky Horror Picture Show interactive experience, you go to these things to be entertained and join in, of which the Dining Experience encourages in spades. The three-course meal accompanying the two-hour production was just as edible and kudos to the chefs and waiters at the Strathmore Hotel for adding to the night’s high quality. No wonder the laughs kept coming with the food and drink aiding in the enjoyment factor. Nothing got too rude and it’s mostly aimed at all ages to come along.
Faulty Towers – the Dining Experience is an often outrageous and unpredictable slice of malarkey sure to please. Those of dour disposition are recommended to stay away; while those eager to experience what everyone has been talking about for years definitely should see what the fuss is about. It may make new fans of the classic series with Basil Fawlty and his hapless hangers on sure to last in the memory long after the final course has been served.
Reviewed by: Patrick Moore
Rating out of 5: 5
Venue: The Balcony Restaurant at the Strathmore Hotel
Season: 2 – 18 March 2018
Duration: 2 hrs.
Tickets: Full Price – $84.00 – $104.00.