Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

The Church, 50 Dundas Street, Dunedin

20/03/2013 - 24/03/2013

Dunedin Fringe 2013

Production Details

Basil, Sybil and Manuel make their Dunedin Fringe debut in “a two-hour eat, drink and laugh sensation” (Daily Telegraph) that’s “absolutely fantastic” (Adelaide Magazine).

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience starts as the audience waits to be seated. It then hurtles along for two hours of fully immersive, highly improvised and site-specific comedy theatre.

With only a third of the show scripted, everything stays fresh as Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve up madcap mayhem and a three-course meal. Internationally acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. 

“Manic, spontaneous, unnerving and sidesplittingly funny… Cleese would be delighted” – The Public Reviews, London West End 

“Had us in stitches” – Huffington Post, Brighton Fringe

“Outstanding” – FringeReview, Adelaide Fringe

“Spot on… utterly delicious entertainment” – Evening News, Edinburgh Fringe

The cast for Dunedin features Andy Foreman as Manuel (world-travelling, hugely talented actor: credits include Morecombe & Wise!); Ron Kelly as Basil (many TV and film credits, including Medivac and Narnia); Karen Hamilton as Sybil (actor and stunt performer with TV and film credits including The Matrix, Home & Away). See actor biogs at www.interactivetheatre.com.au

This affectionate homage to Fawlty Towers tours the world non-stop and is appearing in 20 countries in 2013. It also maintains a residency in London’s West End – believed to be a first for this kind of show.

The Church
March 20, 21, 22, 23, 24;
7:00pm (20-23), 1:00pm (23, 24) 

Full Price: $75 (meal and show) 

2 hrs


Review by Kimberley Buchan 21st Mar 2013

Faulty Towers the Dining Experience involves the fascinating concept of inviting customers to willingly pay for bad service. For those that somehow don’t know the show, Fawlty Towers is an immensely popular British television series written and starred in by John Cleese and Connie Booth. It was inspired by a stay at a hotel in Torquay.

So this is an interactive theatre piece in a restaurant based on a TV show based on a real life experience. Chunks of the material heavily reference (recycle) the script of the television show.

When you go to a show named Faulty Towers you expect chaos and this ensues immediately with the staff still setting up the tables in the restaurant and Andy Foreman as Manuel desperately trying to herd the audience into arbitrary areas. When you eventually get to your table, you will find that you have an overabundance of certain utensils. On top of this, glasses, drinks, and other restaurant miscellanea disappear and reappear arbitrarily piling high on some tables and plunging dangerously low on others. 

The service is so bizarre that there are even items hidden in the food and at this point the show takes on a treasure hunt feel. Luckily the food from The Church is good enough to never have been served in the original Fawlty Towers dining room, if you are apprehensive about trying it. 

This show is a great excuse for anyone acting as Basil Faulty to be extremely rude to people and get laughed at benignly in return. It is an interesting social exercise, especially when you see some customers getting into the spirit of things by taking sides against certain characters and even some who start to enjoy tormenting Manuel.  

The antics of Manuel include removing the clothing of patrons, and serving nuts in the most roundabout way possible. He is frequently hauls off of the customers, much to the delight of the audience, as everyone enjoys interactive theatre as long as it happens to someone else. You do learn very interesting things from Manuel in this show, for example, I now know that my coat is not very good for hiding rat cages in. His slapstick performance even includes a moment where customers are frantically removing breakable items from the table and Manuel rolls past. On the table.

Karen Hamilton plays Sybil and she does her terrible laugh perfectly. Hamilton works the room well, making small talk with the guests, in particular encouraging the women to start training their men early and sharing techniques. She whips out the biting remarks and smugly enjoys humiliating Basil.

The on-edge Ron Kelly has mastered the twitching and the barking required for Basil but doesn’t quite get to the heights of blistering rage that Cleese does.

I had some trepidation about this show, being a huge fan of the television series. I was worried it would not do the iconic originals justice. It is clear they are not the original but they are good representations. This can especially be seen in the voices where the tone, modulation and inflection have been well studied.

This dining experience, in spite of its famously bad service, is well worth seeing. The majority of the audience left with jaws aching from laughing uproariously for nearly two solid hours. 


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