| The Faulty Towers Dining Experience, Kingsway Hotel, London
Believe it or not, I’ve never seen an episode of Faulty Towers. I knew that it is a British television institution, a classic, yet I’ve just never got around to watching it (plus I’m a bit too young to remember when it originally aired on television). So I didn’t know what to expect when I went to the Faulty Towers Dining Experience.
It was hilarious! Taking place in the dining room at Kingsway Hotel in Covent Garden, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience is an interactive and immersive theatre at its best. Of course, there is a meal that’s included in the experience, but it’s all about the show that is unravelling (and falling apart) right before your very eyes as you’re tucking into your leek and potato soup – that is if Manuel hasn’t taken it from you.
If you don’t know much about the television show, which would be hard to believe, it is about characters in a fictional hotel in the seaside town of Torquay. First off there is owner Basil Fawlty – a true Englishman – and his wife Sybil, who orders him around but she’s the one who wears the pants in the relationship. And then there is Manual – a short in stature Spanish waiter who practically speaks no English and gets the instructions from Basil all wrong. So it’s these characters from the show that you get to ‘enjoy’ your dining experience with.
The show starts immediately when Basil (played by Benedict Holme) tells Manuel (Anthony Clegg as an exact replica to the Manuel played by Andrew Sachs) to take the glasses away, of course, Manuel takes people’s glasses off their faces and not the drink glasses! Then Basil tells Manuel to pass out the peanuts, so Manuel literally passes out the peanuts. It’s one thing after another, and once you sit down in the Faulty restaurant it’s only a matter of time until Manual interferes with you – he turns your napkin into a bib, tosses rolls around the room, does somersaults, and spends the entire time misunderstanding and misinterpreting everything Basils says. Lucky for us it’s Sybil (Suzanna Hughes) who manages, a bit, to keep the entire dinner from melting into complete chaos! It’s very physical comedy, but it’s also physical for the attendee because you’re laughing very hard and out loud too! It was the unlucky few who found a set of teeth in their soup – gags like this that make the whole thing hilariously fun and funny! No person is spared, and god forbid if you are celebrating a birthday or anniversary – you will get a special gift from Sybil – and boy is it special! It’s an experience that you will not forget – just don’t mention the war!!!
It was a treat to be transported back to the 1970’s with being part of Fawlty Towers Dining Experience. The trepidation that you might be picked on was real and you almost expect the soup to end up on your lap? Sybil was so like the television character down to the scary laugh, while Manuel was brilliant and made the whole show so very reminiscent of the television snow. What a great way to spend a two and a half hours – to be part of this experience makes me want to watch the television series now.
Tickets for the Fawlty Towers Dining Experience can be bought here:
If you have any questions on the show, there is a Frequently Asked Questions on the first page.
The London shows, held in the Torquay Suite Theatre at the Kingsway Hall Hotel, are held throughout the year, while there is also a version that tours the UK as well as Australia and the rest of the world. Yes, this is how popular this show is – continuously playing much to the delight of the television show’s fans – it’s the world’s most successful comedy dining show of it’s kind and now it’s time for you to experience yourself too!
Tim Baros writes film and theatre articles/ reviews for Pride Life and The American magazines and websites, as well as for Hereisthecity.com, Blu-RayDefinition.com and TheGayUK.com. He has also written for In Touch and TNT Magazines, SquareMile.com and LatinoLife.co.uk. He is a voting member for the UK Regional Critics Circle and the Gay & Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association (GALECA – of which he is the UK representative). In addition, he has produced and directed two films: The Shirt and Rex Melville Desire: The Musical.