Faulty Towers The Dining Experience

"Filled with feel good, laugh out loud classic moments from the TV Show"

Faulty Towers : The Dining Experience has spent ten successful years in London’s West End and has travelled up north for a month long residency in Manchester’s Hotel Brooklyn. Further productions take place in Australia with performances around the world planned for later in 2023.

Faulty Towers is a British sitcom staple, broadcast on the BBC in the 1970’s.  Despite only two series being made, it has often been ranked amongst the greatest British television programmes. The series follows Basil and Sybil Faulty as they run their fictional seaside hotel, with disorganised Spanish waiter Manuel on hand to cater to their every need. 

In this immersive experience, 70% of each performance is improvised where anything and everything can happen. The interaction with the actors starts from the moment we have ordered our drinks. Basil (Benedict Holme) welcomes guests and instructs Manuel (Andrew Gruen) to ‘collect the glasses on the table’. Manuel scurries around the foyer collecting the eyewear of the diners and places them on the table much to the dismay of the hotel manager.. The tone is immediately set for the farce that is Faulty Towers. It’s as if we have climbed inside the iconic TV show and are experiencing it from the inside. 

Each party have a moment to interact with Basil as he directs us to our table from the seating plan. This personal touch really makes us feel involved right at the start of the evening. Basil’s rude and ridiculous one liners are for diners who are thick skinned, so beware! As we enter the restaurant Sybil (Clare Buckingham) and Manuel are waiting to show us to our table. Manuel takes it upon himself to place our napkin on our lap and shuffle our seat into the table with hilarious consequences. 

We were sat on the middle table in the centre of the action. The cast and chaos moves around and makes great use of the vast space of the restaurant. Classic sketches are recreated and referenced too, much to the delight of the diners. Iconic moments including Basil, Manuel’s ‘hamster’, the hotel inspector and premature fire drills are all recreated with hilarity. One particular highlight ensued when several lost items were found in our freshly served soup. Besides the storylines from the original series, the characters take time to sit and talk to you throughout the evening often apologising for the ‘lack of staff training’.

The cast of the production had the exact nuances of these classic characters. Remaining in character when diners were over enthusiastic regarding the immersive element is not easy but all three professionals dealt with this with ease. At times it was as if John Cleese was in the room himself as Holme was identical to the original Basil. Manuel’s confused and bemused nature was apparent when asked to ‘wait on the tables’. Manuel stood on top of the table and waited! Diners were also treated to several iconic ‘¿Qué?’ moments from the Spaniard. Sybil wearing a trademark tight skirt suit had her distinctive tone and laugh that’s Basil refers to as ‘machine gunning a seal’.

Interacting with the cast is what makes this experience so unique. Whilst the three course meal was pleasant enough, it’s the captivating nature in which these characters are portrayed that keeps us hooked during the two hour performance.

The Faulty Towers Dining Experience is filled with feel good, laugh out loud classic moments from the TV Show. The immersive and interactive nature of the show makes the diners feel as if we really are at the infamous hotel. As shambolic as Faulty Towers is, this is anything but.

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience runs at the Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester until the 12th March before heading to the Hotel Brooklyn, Leicester from the 15th March.  Details here: FAULTY TOWERS THE DINING EXPERIENCE | Interactive Theatre 

Review written by Jordan Potts

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