Faulty Towers: the Dining Experience
Aug 1 – 25 (times vary)
As we were ushered into the room at the George Hotel, Edinburgh, I was excited to be about to see my heroes come to life, and come to life they did. This gig, a “themed dinner”, was nothing new, having entertained audiences for the past 22 years – an achievement in itself. Over the years the cast has changed many times; Basil Fawlty was this time played by Jack Baldwin, wife Sybil by Karina Garnett and Manuel the Spanish waiter by Oliver Harrison. The three joined us in character to welcome us into the dining room for lunch, and show us to our allocated seats at large round tables. The slapstick started straight away with Basil barking orders at Manuel, all of which were misunderstood due to his poor English, much to Basil’s great frustration. In a circus-like performance, Manuel made mistake after mistake, food was thrown about, while members of the audience were picked upon at the whim of the cast.
I was quite surprised when we were served our food, for were left in relative peace to enjoy it; though the soup, bread and butter we started with was a fiasco. Manuel whispered in my ear asking how my food was and if I required any parsley. I replied none, but that was maybe the wrong answer as he threw my soup on the table making a big mess and making me look bad. We were there to have a good time and laugh loads, which we did just as though we were watching the original TV show, of which only 12 episodes were ever made. From the faithful – rather star-struck – aficionados like me, to people who’d never seen it before, everyone loved this well-written farce. In 22 years they must have honed the experience to perfection; Basil the crazy inept hotel owner, Sybil, forever on his back, and Manuel the genius Spanish waiter.
After an endless stream of gags and scenarios that were all brilliant in themselves, the action finally gathered to one last crescendo as Jack Baldwin’s Basil grew in stature and finally lost the grip completely as he strode around doing John Cleese’s famous silly walk, finger on his face to signify Hitler’s moustache, shouting and screaming about the Second World War in that typical, over-the-top style. As the three took their bows, there was one more sarcastic comment from Basil – he just couldn’t help himself! I can only thank this production for entertaining me, feeding me and having the entire audience in stitches all the way through.