Review by Alice Mooney
‘Basil!’ Sybil yells after checking you in at the Duke of Wellington dining room, she dings the bell several times, ding ding ding ding ding! In comes her husband Basil…‘Yes, dear, yes!?’ he replies. He is all limbs and elbows, and greets you with the classic false courtesies and air of irritation reminiscent of John Cleese’s original Basil Fawlty. If you’ve watched the cult classic British T.V series then you’ll feel very much as poorly accommodated for, as the guests from the 1970’s Fawlty Towers hotel. If you haven’t seen the series, that is the premise of the performance so be ready for these three characters to school you in the best possible example of how NOT to run a hotel restaurant.
The cast of three includes Basil Faulty (Played by Jack Newell), Sybil Faulty (Rebeca Fortuna) and Manuel (Anthony Sottile) whose commitment to their characters is high energy and well executed. Sottile steals focus as Manuel by performing a series of misinterpreted tasks. Peanuts and bread rolls go flying, plates roll and smash, and they capitalise on the comedic opportunity of miscommunication. Sottile truly masters Manuel’s accent and his deep mischievous laugh. The wide-eyed Newell as Basil, maintains a consistent level of fury and frustration as he parries to keep Manuel on task while pandering to his wife’s watchful eye. Fortuna has a tough role to play as Sybil, keeping both Basil and Manuel in line, while working closely with restaurant staff to keep the dinner running smoothly.
Both Basil and Manuel struggle to execute the simplest of tasks around you and will not hesitate to include you and your fellow diners in their antics. Be ready to go along with the joke and laugh at yourself as it’s all in good fun. They move about the dining area, utilising the entire space to ensure they are nearly always in view of the audience/diners. While I was personally very pleased with the food on offer, there may have been some not so satisfied bellies due to portions. But please keep in mind, this is a comedy theatrical performance first, where your dinner is simply one element of a larger whole. In any case, you’ll most likely be too busy watching on at the events around you or chatting and laughing with your fellow diners to care. I have no doubt that if you make the effort to see some of the original T.V series prior to this show, then you’ll appreciate the many relevant references and occurrences that take place in this hilarious performance.