Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Interactive comedy theatre which includes a three-course meal. Based around television series Fawlty Towers, expect the unexpected because only a third of the show is scripted (and not taken from the original series!).
Fawlty Towers, the much-loved British sitcom, may have served its last guest way back in 1979 but fear not – the cast of Faulty Towers The Dining Experience have been serving up their homage to the show to eager fringe crowds for the past nine years – and what an experience it is.
The creaking Fawlty Towers is recreated in B’est, an Edinburgh restaurant, where diners partake in a three-course meal perforated by the slapdash, slapstick mayhem of Basil, Sybil and Manuel. It is loosely based on the TV series – and fans of the show will be quick to spot the subtle and not-so-subtle references. For those unfamiliar with the programme, Fawlty Towers is a fictional hotel in a British seaside town. Most of the action centres on put-upon owner Basil Fawlty together with his bossy wife Sybil and Spanish waiter Manuel and their farcical management of the hotel. This show attempts to bring some of that magic alive in two hours of highly improvised comedy theatre.
Benedict Holme plays Basil with characteristic aplomb and a hearty serving of manic physicality. From the moment the audience are greeted by our precarious host, it is clear that this is not going to be a dull evening. The terse relationship between Basil and his wife Sybil was a large part of the comedy appeal of the original series, and as soon as the audience hears the landlady’s peeling guffaw (courtesy of a frenetic and engaging Suzanna Hughes) we are in stitches, and remain so for the majority of the evening. The place is packed to bursting, and yet all attention is held by the cast of three for the duration.
This year’s show is a souped-up incarnation of the previous shows, and having seen it twice before the casting and format is spot-on and has been subtly tweaked to allow even further audience participation and ad-libbing from the cast. One word of warning however – don’t come expecting anything less than a culinary riot, with bread rolling waiter Manuel (played by an endearingly shambolic Oliver Harrison). Plate smashing optional.
The show marches at breakneck speed, but it is tightly produced – quite a feat given that around two thirds is pure improv. The cast are skilled at adapting to the audience, and the comedic chaos of the original series is deftly brought to life by these talented three.
The food wasn’t exactly haute-cuisine (and that is kind of the point) but you will be laughing so hard that what you are eating barely registers. Interactive Theatre International have once more delivered feel-good family comedy at its finest …even if the audience do smell a rat!