There is simply no need to know the much-loved 1970s comedy TV series Fawlty Towers to enjoy this interactive disaster of a dining experience. Basil Faulty, his wife Sybil and their Spanish waiter Manuel serve it up with such precise comic timing and slapstick that you’ll be dodging flying breadrolls whether or not you know the show’s origins. You’ll never have more fun from bad service.
With a three course meal included in your ticket price, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is a staple diet of the Fringe and you just need to look at how many shows they’re doing this year to know how popular they are. This Aussie troupe have been paying tribute to Fawlty Towers around the globe since 1997.
The original British television series starred John Cleese as people-hating Basil Fawlty who ran a hotel of dubious quality with his “viper” of a wife Sybil and their non-English speaking servant. With each episode, a new disaster would unfold, turning comedy into outrageous slapstick, often at the expense of the poor dining guests.
True to form, the insults and arrogance of Basil begin in the bar as he attempts to get guests seated at their allocated tables. Hapless Manuel, who struggles to understand even the simplest of instructions, fails every attempt to do the right thing, and it isn’t long until an exasperated Sybil begins to get her grump on.
If you’re not a fan of interactive theatre, this is one show to steer clear of, although no joke or insult is pushed too far. The cast are experts in not only delivering the characters and antics we expect, but at reading their audience and only taking a joke as far as needed.
The comedy is plentiful, often leaving some diners screaming with laughter. The actors spread themselves throughout the dining room, working each table effectively and in ways that no one misses out. It’s a well thought out experience.
Ambassadors Hotel is a fine location in the heart of the city, with the quality of food certainly surpassing the quality of the show’s service! Soup, mains and dessert are included in the ticket price, with pay-as-you-go table service for drinks (from the real venue staff). Lunch and dinner shows are available with an option to notify them of any dietary requirements in advance.
If you walk away with one regret from Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, it will be that you didn’t experience it sooner.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 5: 4
Venue: Ambassadors Hotel, 107 King William Street, Adelaide
Season: 14 February – 15 March 2015
Duration: 2 hours
Tickets: $69 – $89
Bookings: Book through FringeTix online or at a FringeTix box office (booking fees apply)