The classic ‘dinner and show’ is a favourite outing for Adelaide Fringe-goers, but what happens when instead of watching the show, you’re a part the show? This is the opportunity that Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience hopes to offer. A quick Google search will reveal that this Fringe event is celebrating its 14th consecutive year. After having attended, my only regret is that I didn’t make time to see it sooner.
I was initially hesitant to attend, holding ‘Fawlty Towers’ in such high regard and worried about the possibility of tarnishing its memory in my mind. It wouldn’t take much for an homage to the classic 1970s show to become a tacky misrepresentation. As it turns out, my fears couldn’t have been more misplaced. From the moment you walk in you’re transported to the hotel’s dining room, being greeted by Sybil and her warm – though frazzled – manner. As expected, the welcomes stop as soon as you’re pawned off to Basil and Manuel – being seated and instructed in between short-tempered remarks and mishaps lost-in-translation (from Basil and Manuel, respectively).
It is this true-to-form embodiment of character that really outshines all else. In so accurately capturing the essence of Basil, Sybil and Manuel, the cast creates a dynamic that mimics the chemistry you’d see on-screen. Throughout the 2-hour evening, you’re an extra in their episode, and as laugh-out-loud antics unfold – involving yourself, your food, your surroundings – you almost forget that this is for your entertainment, the line between reality and fiction blur to truly immerse yourself. Basil commands the room with his booming voice, and while Manuel cowers with confusion, you’re genuinely conflicted between humour and sympathy. Then, there’s the sense of justice when Sybil puts Basil in his place and the nuances from years of marriage become evidently clear.
Thankfully, the only deviation from the on-screen ‘Fawlty Towers’ is the standard of food you’d expect. While Basil, Manuel and Sybil might try to deter your appetite, one bite of the Adelaide Oval’s three course dinner will tell your tummy not to listen. They cater to any dietary requirements (I heard rave reviews about the vegetarian substitute) and by dessert time I was bursting at the seams. With a starting price of $95 per person, it does sit at the pricier end of the Fringe Show scale, but for a delicious dinner and immersive experience, you won’t find better value much elsewhere.
Words by Steph Rillo