Fawlty Towers - The Dining Experience, Aces Bar, March 12
Recreating an iconic show like Fawlty Towers
in the form of an interactive theatrical dinner is an experiment that could simply go either way: a complete failure or an overwhelming success. The result is entirely reliant on how authentically the actors portray their characters. Entering the venue we were a little concerned as to which way our experience would turn, but with reviews professing that this is one of the best shows of the Fringe and has been a consistent sell-out for numerous years, we’d just have to wait and see what came to pass.
Greeted by Manuel during pre-dinner drinks, it was instantly clear that this was going to be a very close replica of the television show, because this ‘Manuel’ character had all the flaws of the original. Within seconds of Basil asking Manuel to serve nuts, the confused Spaniard waiter was atop a bar serving separate cashews at the patrons, volleyball style. Clearly this was going to be a mockery of a meal, and excitement levels were at an all time high.
In honesty, Manuel and his misunderstandings were the highlight and focus of the presentation, and this was in no way a bad thing. From rolling on plates (instead of placing the rolls on diners’ plates), to setting up tables with either too many knives or not nearly enough, to dropping soup bowls, confusing a horse's name ‘Saphire’ with ‘it's a fire’ and losing his pet rat, it was a continuous sequence of slip-ups which, to be frank, were an exact and fantastic nod of respect to the original series.
The Basil character was portrayed quite brilliantly also: fearing his wife, continuously apologising to customers, letting his obnoxiousness get the better of him with racism and ageism and always incurring the blame. However, the night would not have been complete without the full trio, and the actress who impersonated Sybil Fawlty was near flawless. It was certainly hilarious to see Basil delivered a fish artefact directly into his rear end by his adoring but bossy wife.
With a delicious three course meal (which was met with mixed service depending on Manuel's involvement) and the consistent attention of the Aces Bar staff, full credit must be given to their efforts amongst the mayhem and misconduct.
To summarise, any fan of the historic and worshipped TV series Fawlty Towers would likely enjoy their most hectic meal ever at this performance. To the unknown, this is a perfect introduction to the brilliance of John Cleese and co. from decades ago. Any regular diner would be justifiably grossed out at the idea of fake teeth in their soup, but at a Fawlty Towers Dining Experience this is an everyday occurrence, and all who participated in this evening's transgressions did so with glee.