As we walked through the revolving glass doors of the hotel, we were ushered up a velvet carpeted spiral staircase, and welcomed into a chandeliered bar with paintings of moustached men hanging on all sides. We were in the four star Victorian style Amba hotel in Charing Cross to attend ‘The Faulty Towers Dining Experience’.
A little after ordering our drinks as the room filled to capacity, a very grumpy and frustrated Basil stomped into the room running after a tiny Spanish waiter. A hilarious scene ensued in which he explained to Manuel that he should be serving the nuts on his tray, not wandering aimlessly with them…at which point Manuel started to throw nuts in the air one by one and ‘serve’ them with his hands in the same way you would use a tennis racket. Basil then directed us to our respective tables with a spot-on bow and forced smile a’ la John Cleese.
The rest of the evening we sat happily at our table while a night of dramatic mayhem surrounded us. The show is only a third scripted while the rest of their acting is completely improvised. Fortunately the actors are so good that it doesn’t become ever awkard or overdone. In fact, I don’t think I stopped laughing for the following 2 hours.
Sybil was excellent, dressed in a horrific 70s matching salmon pink jacket and skirt, and a wig that kept ominously slipping from side to side. Her pointed, condescending looks at Basil were perfect, and she seemed particularly good at the improvisation part of things, remembering names, singing ‘Happy Birthdays’ and teasing guests about their choice in clothes. I got told off for being ‘common’ because I mistook my dessert spoon for my soup one. And then there was the laugh. Oh the laugh.
Basil’s mannerisms and looks of fury were spot on, as was Manuel’s cowering uselessness.
The actors managed to achieve a very good balance of including nearly every guest without making them ever feel embarrassed or shoved in the spotlight.
All the jokes were of course so tongue in cheek and slapstick that it made overall for a really touching night, as well as a hilarious one. What happened to the good old days when comedy was funny just because it was funny (as opposed to funny because it’s offensive)?!
The food was admittedly not haute cuisine but a part of me quite enjoyed that… it was classic English 70s to a T, and the fact that the carrots were boiled and unsalted and the chicken was overcooked meant people voiced a couple of complaints, which as you may imagine, were not well received by Basil.
I don’t want to give too much away so I’ll leave it at that, but, suffice to say, we left very giggly and content. If you’re anything resembling a Fawlty Towers fan, go!