FRINGE REVIEW: Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience is wonderfully traumatic
Fulfilling the role of “that annoying section of the general public who insist on dining at hotels”, I had the, somewhat uncomfortable, pleasure of being part of “Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience” on opening night. The night began rather innocuously: After being greeted at the door, we were told not to sit down as “Mr Fawlty would be out momentarily to seat you”. It was a statement that I couldn’t help smiling at. After being a fan of the show for as long as I could remember, the prospect of being seated at a restaurant by Basil Fawlty was one that got me giddy with excitement. Although, Basil wasn’t the first staff member we met. After nervously standing around, talking to other patrons about what to expect from the forthcoming hours, a short man with an ill-fitting suit sped past my knees. Manuel made his way around the crowd in his characteristically confused manner, asking people for “nuts”. Sure enough, Basil Fawlty burst from the kitchen to berate Manuel for his lack of understanding, and then proceeded to ask each patron whether they planned to dine tonight. In my case, I was first asked if I was lost, then asked whether I had just decided “not to dress up for the occasion”.
The remainder of the night was full of Fawlty Tower’s hijinks, sporadic crowd insulting, and true-to-form bland food. For me to go on, it would potentially ruin the experience for those intending to attend. I guess the night would be best described as “Wonderfully Traumatic”. There were points that I was legitimately scared to eat my food, I had a rat on my lap for the majority of the main course, and my friend was forced into sculling her drink by Manuel and my bread roll was stolen mid-soup by Manuel, as another patron asked for more bread. Sybil Fawlty had a slightly lesser role in proceedings, serving more as a catalyst to the jokes. With that being said, she was quite funny in her own right. Being a big dude, Sybil served me a plate, looked at me and said “That’s probably not enough, is it darling?” ran back to the kitchen and put more food on the plate. Very funny.
A special mention must go to the acting. Not only did the characters look believable, but each and every idiosyncrasy of the character were fully realised by the actors. The voice acting was unbelievable, if you closed your eyes you would think that Basil Fawlty was actually yelling at you.
Although, I must say, you really do have to come into it with an open mind and a willingness to enjoy the proceedings. The couple seated either side of me were not having a bar of it, instead choosing the critique the food and try to work out the monetary value of said food. The food was bland, it was supposed to be, and that’s part of the joke.
The Faulty Towers Dining Experience was an absolute blast. At no stage through the two hour run time did I begin to have a bad time. As I said, it was wonderfully traumatic.