The most delicious event of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival - The Faulty Towers Dining Experience really is something to ensure you do not miss. The food is delicious, the actors are on fire and the nostalgia is real.
For my dining experience I decided to bring along perhaps the biggest Fawlty Towers fan I know of, my friend Ash. I figured this would be a true gauge of just how well this night would rank with the die-hard fans of the show. I am pleased to say he was absolutely thrilled (and I quote) "I honestly can't remember laughing this hard since I was drunk enough to watch Cats (2019) during lockdown."
The premise is simple: Enjoy a delicious meal (I cannot stress how great the soup is), in the dining room of Fawlty Towers (The Duke of Wellington Hotel), being served by Manuel (Anthony Sottile) whilst Basil (Jack Newell) tries to maintain order, lest Sybil (Rebecca Fortuna) discover the disarray.
As you dine, you'll find yourself smack in the middle of all of your favourite episodes. The rat, the fish, the Germans; it's all in there. The show is performed with true commedia dell'arte flair. In one of the greatest and most well known Pantalone roles; Basil, Jack Newell is everything you want him to be. John Cleese leaves big shoes to fill, but Newell has all of the poise, pompous and propriety that the role demands. His foil, Sybil, is played by the delightful Rebecca Fortuna. Her song-like tonality matched with her sterns stares, is a perfect match for Newell's puffed chest. She may be small, but Fortuna is fiery. Many would argue the highlight of the original series is Fawlty's foolish Spanish butler. It is safe to say that this also rings gloriously true for this event. Put simply, Anthony Sottile, IS Manuel. Every nuance, every misunderstanding and every ounce of beautiful naïveté is dripping with that beautiful Spanish accent we all love to hear.
The acting trio are masters of improvisation and handling drunken heckling from middle aged women. The show is a marathon for the actors, who must consistently maintain a heightened sense of drama for an hour and a half with only minor breaks in between. They are so deserving of any accolades they receive and be sure to congratulate them as you pass them when you leave the venue. They really are splendid.
This is a fantastically unique experience, masterfully directed and written by Alison Pollard-Mansergh. I cannot recommend this enough.
The Faulty Towers Dining Experience is running until April 18th at the Duke of Wellington Hotel (walking distance from Flinders Street Station). Tickets can be purchased here.