Laugh till you cry through two riotous hours of food, wine and impeccable comic timing
One wouldn’t normally advocate poor table service during a three-course meal on Sydney Harbour, but when it comes to Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, madness, mayhem and misadventure are precisely its appeal. This unique dining experience – performed by master impersonators from Interactive Theatre International – is where fine dining and immersive comedy theatre combine. And the result is simply too brilliant to miss.
So what’s on the Faulty Towers menu? An affectionate homage to the 1975 British comedy series Fawlty Towers (written by and starring John Cleese and Connie Booth), guests are invited to take a seat by the restaurant’s disgruntled manager, Basil, his bossy wife, Sybil, and their clumsy Spanish waiter, Manuel, for what should be a pleasant, 70’s-inspired feed. But from here, much like the original Fawlty Towers, havoc and hilarity ensues.
Between Basil’s quick temper and dry retorts, Sybil’s shrill commands and Manuel’s limited, albeit amusing, grasp of the English language, the cast’s ability to capture their characters’ subtleties – both physically and vocally – is faultless. The three stars flail between courses forgetting meals and heckling diners (dietary requirements expect to be targeted!). Before long you’re thoroughly immersed in the deliciously dysfunctional Fawlty Towers world.
More impressive still is that the performance is largely improvised, with momentum spurred on by the audience’s reactions. In other words, cast niceties aside and get involved! These are the wackiest, most wonderful waiters you’ll ever have the pleasure of complaining to.
Though two thirds unscripted, classic gags are plentiful; Manuel’s pet ‘hampster’ makes an appearance, there’s mid-meal betting, Manuel gets a thrashing from Basil and naturally, Basil gets his from Sybil. And if you’re able to tear away from the calamity, or stop between laughs for a breath, the three-course set menu is pretty tasty too. It’s worth mentioning that this is the type of 5-star event where fancy fare plays second fiddle to silliness, and the meals are more like props to the show. But the pay-off is two lively hours of endless laughs, and if you’re really lucky there might be a surprise for you in the soup.
If Fawlty Towers was a little before your time, parents and grandparents will no doubt enjoy being taken back to the outrageous antics of Basil Fawlty and his eccentric crew.
By Suzanne Chellingworth
Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience tours 20 different countries, and visits most major cities Australia-wide. Ticket pricing reflects the time, day and venue, which are available on the Interactive Theatre International website. At the top-end of the scale, a Saturday lunch performance at the Sydney Opera House was $169.
Fawlty Towers: The Dining Experience w: www.interactivetheatre.com.au e: info@imaginationworkshop.
Photography by Diabolique Photography