Travels With JB

Travels With JB

Travel news and reviews

Lovers of the television show Fawlty Towers should feel right at home at Faulty Towers The Dining Experience. But then again, maybe not!

Basil (Rob Langston) serving diners.
Basil (Rob Langston) serving diners at Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.

The interactive Dining Experience features some of the funniest scenes from the Fawlty Towers television series and, as fans know, it’s not all smooth dining.

Chef mishaps, communication breakdowns, marital tensions and roaming rodents were just some of the `issues’ guests at the show’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival’s opening night experienced.

Rob Langston (Basil) and Rebecca Fortuna (Sybil).

While there were plenty of issues with our hosts – Basil and Sybil and waiter Manuel – fortunately there were no such problems with the food, although a couple of people did find an unexpected (but, of course, scripted) surprise in their soup. The show includes a three-course meal cooked by the chefs at the show’s venue, The Stamford Plaza International.

The serving of the bread rolls, the cream of green pea soup and the char-grilled chicken breast by Basil, Sybil and Manuel provides many of shows laughs (the passionfruit pavlova dessert is served by Stamford Plaza staff at the end of the performance). However, the fun starts in a reception area outside the dining venue where Basil and Manuel direct guests to their tables at the Faulty Towers Hotel dining room.

Anthony Sottile (Manuel) with diners.

What follows is around two hours of scripted and impromptu interaction between Basil, Sybil, Manuel and their guests. While the show features its own original script and format, many of the scenarios are similar to the television series.

It comes as no surprise to discover Faulty Towers the Dining Experience is an international success performed all over the world and its residency in London’s West End has been topping the bill since 2012. It is surprising, however, to discover the show was born in Brisbane in 1997.

Basil (Rob Langston). Photo credit: Ron Rutten.

This version features English actor Rob Langston as Basil and Australian actors Anthony Sottile as Manuel and Rebecca Fortuna as Sybil.

All did a great job with their characters. While fans of the television series had some idea what to expect, such was the cast’s comic timing and improvising that all in the audience seemed totally involved. The majority selected for `special treatment’ played along with great enthusiasm.

Rebecca Fortuna (Sybil) and a member of the audience.

The energy of both cast and audience and the chance to relive memories from what has just been voted Britain’s greatest sitcom explains why Faulty Towers the Dining Experience has, and will no doubt continue to have, such a successful run wherever it appears.

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is playing at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival until April 14.  The show is then touring around Australia until the end of December. Visit Faulty Towers Dining for more information and tickets.

*Jenny Burns attended the opening night of Faulty Towers the Dining Experience as a guest of the production company.

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