A few weeks ago the team here at ITI were chatting about the first time we ever went to see Faulty Towers The Dining Experience – some of us were in the UK, some in Australia.
We all had lots of fun telling stories about the first time we saw this gag, or that joke. This Sybil does that thing, that Manuel plays up this mistake, these Basils really show the pain…
Of course, we all saw the show early on because we were becoming a part of the ITI team, and we’ve all seen it often since. That makes the experience very different for us compared to audience members. Many of us don’t eat, for a start! But all of us had seen the iconic BBC TV series Fawlty Towers that the show pays tribute to.
That got us wondering… what is it like to see Faulty Towers The Dining Experience for the first time as a punter? Many reviewers have told us it’s just as good whether you’ve seen the TV show or not – but would audiences think the same?
So we put it to the test: Do people who have never seen the TV series enjoy our show differently, and/or as much as, people who know and love those 12 episodes on the Beeb?
We asked two friends of the show – Father and Daughter duo, Lionel and Trisha, agreed to see Faulty Towers The Dining Experience and give us their uncensored thoughts! Neither of the pair had ever seen our immersive dining experience, but Lionel is a huge fan of the BBC series Fawlty Towers, whereas Trisha had never seen the series and was coming in blind.
Let’s not give anything else away – this is what they had to say…
What did you know about the TV series Fawlty Towers beforehand?
Lionel: I am a HUGE fan of the Fawlty towers series! Seen them all!
Trisha: Not much at all really. Just that it’s an old British TV show that used to make my Dad belly laugh.
What did you expect before seeing Faulty Towers The Dining Experience?
Lionel: Honestly, I thought it would be a stage show whilst we ate dinner. It was quite surprising to me to be part of the action. I had a lot of fun experiencing my favourite show from that perspective.
Trisha: I truly didn’t know what to expect so I couldn’t predict any of it.
Did Faulty Towers The Dining Experience meet your ideas/expectations?
Lionel: It exceeded my expectations. It really made me appreciate what it would have been like to be a guest at the hotel.
Trisha: At first I really didn’t know what to expect or what was going on! But it was such a brilliant night out, so in that sense it surpassed any expectations I might have had!
Did the show surprise you?
Lionel: Yes. I actually got a shock when they first came out and started because I felt like Basil was amongst us. The actors did a great job making me really feel like I was in the Fawlty Towers hotel.
Trisha: Yes. From subtle beginnings of Manuel collecting glasses around us, things escalated quickly. I soon realised we needed to leave any sense of personal space at the door.
What were some key moments you remember?
Lionel: First sight of Basil – his movement, antics, and speech were very much like Basil on the TV. Same with Manuel and Sybil. They all captured the intricate mannerisms well. All of the physical comedy parts were my favourite!
Trisha: Manuel dancing and singing on the table was fun. He got the whole audience involved and singing along with him. I also found it funny how the occasional clang as clumps of cutlery got dumped on the tables made us jump!
What made you laugh?
Lionel: Basil’s goosestepping and the German jokes were the highlight for me.
Trisha: So many jokes at the expense of dinner guests made the night even more hilarious. Sybil talked to my father about how stylish his jacket was and ended with ‘Yes, yes, you just keep on breaking hearts then.’ And she walked away! It was so condescending and hilarious.
How did you think the show compared or captured the essence of the TV series?
Lionel: I had not seen the show for over 10 years and yet I was instantly transported back to a time where we used to sit as a family once a week and watch Fawlty Towers together. There was so much nostalgia in the room to accompany the show. All the classic moments were there and ensured the memories of those times came flooding back.
Trisha: I really can’t say. Might have to watch re-runs of the TV now to find out!
What did you think of the characters?
Lionel: The actors displayed a deep connection with the original characters and their ad-lib abilities were fantastic. They’ve clearly spent a lot of time studying the original and the physical nature of each character. Sybil ended up having a long conversation with me about my jacket and made several jokes at my expense. She was very funny.
Trisha: Basil was so rude to his wife and really showed that they were in a loveless marriage. He was loud and created so much of the chaos. His physical comedy was the best though. So funny. Even though Manuel was getting everything wrong and couldn’t understand he was calm about it. Although Manuel was the one who was most likely to be handsy! Sybil had such a good way with the diners and was really lovely, but she showed her impatient side with Basil in front of the guests very readily with her whiney voice.
What did you think of the food?
Lionel: The food was great. Perfect for a night out.
Trisha: Luckily, the show certainly did not continue in the kitchen. All three courses of dinner were beautiful and really well done.
A short description of the experience?
Lionel: The comedy of John Cleese* is just timeless. It is the classical music of my generation. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, the dysfunctional relationships between Basil, Sybil and Manuel are so relatable and yet so eye-wateringly awkward. Absolutely loved it!
Trisha: We’ve all experienced bad service in our lives but it is a truly new experience to purposefully attend a dinner filled with bad service. There is nowhere to hide from the flying bread rolls and clanging cutlery. But that is some of the magic of the show. The night out was true escapism. A completely memorable evening.
Many thanks to Lionel Wyland and Trisha McFadyen for putting their sensibilities on the line and for seeing our show. Many thanks, too, to our venue, Buderim Tavern, for helping to make them and the show so welcome! And, of course, many thanks (and well done 😉 ) to our actors on the night: Rob Langston, Andy Foreman and Amy Currie.
(for more about them, see the About/Actors page at faultytowersdining.com)
We’re so chuffed to find out that the show translates beautifully to pretty much anyone ready for a night of silliness and jokes at their expense 😉
Check it out yourself! All tour dates around the world are on our website, faultytowersdining.com
* Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is an affectionate homage to Fawlty Towers, the BBC TV series written by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Their original TV scripts are not used in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience; Faulty Towers The Dining Experience uses its own original script and format.
The BBC TV series originally screened two series of six episodes each in 1975 and 1979. ITI’s flagship immersive show opened in Brisbane in 1997 and has been touring the world ever since.