Review by Cynthia Ning
If you were to peek into one of the many theatres and hidden dining rooms one might find in the Sydney Opera House, you may be lucky enough to stumble upon Faulty Towers The Dining Experience.
We were packed like sardines into the Utzon Room as people queued up for the drinks line as we waited to be seated. The restaurant had a stunning view overlooking the harbour with large round dining room tables seating around 10 people. The wall had a single taxidermy fish on a simple frame, and we wondered whether it would start moving and singing to us.
A sweet waiter dressed in his formal white uniform makes his appearance by gingerly checking the chairs and curiously looking out to the audience just before an impatient man in a brown check suit makes his way through the crowd to the front and introduces himself as Basil (Jack Baldwin), this evening’s host and gives direct orders to Manuel (Sean Harrison) to welcome the guests. We all very soon understood that English was not Manuel’s first language and Basil's orders become lost in translation from the literal interpretation of his instructions by taking the guest's personal items before being quickly corrected saying with confusion, ‘Qué?’. But we all knew Manuel was doing his very best.
Now having our attention, Basil read out the list of guests and where they would be seated and hilariously hurried us to our table, with the older guests needing to take their time and tutting at some of the sport shoes worn to this fine dining experience.
While this organised chaos was happening, the charming co-host Sybil (Monique Lewis) entered without a hair out of place and glided around the space conversing with us and making sure we were comfortable and happy to be there, not knowing what to expect next. This kept the audience on their toes with exceptional vocal delivery from all the actors.
Basil encouraged everyone at the table to get to know one another and cleverly deterred us from using our phones during the performance as was considered bad manners. We had an international mix of locals and tourists from the US and UK in which we shared banter and stories from their time during lockdown.
There was action happening all around us, and we quickly realised no one was safe from being involved in the performance. Each joke landed with precision, audience participation was well received, and our appetites wetted from the moment the entrée was (eventually) served on our tables.
This experience was entirely unique from the brilliant on-the-spot improv to the juicy scenes shared between each character which had us roaring with laughter as the trio brought the house down. Props to the cast for nailing the mannerisms, British accents and costumes which were spot on to the beloved 1970’s television series Fawlty Towers with nods to some of the prominent moments and interactions between the characters.
Sybil brought her gentle feminine nature and calmness to balance out the highly physical and exaggerated theatrics of Basil to the silliness of Manuel. Never missing a beat, they were on fire every time they were on stage. The cast captured each opportune moment with unknowing audience members and brought them to the spotlight with light-hearted jabs and tongue-in-cheek jokes.
This is absurdist comedy at its finest. There was laughter, tears, and suspense. We were grinning from ear to ear till my cheeks were sore throughout the show!
I highly recommend anyone needing a pick me up to come and see the show with a loved one or best friend to enjoy this unique dining experience to talk about for years to come.
Please note that this is a set menu dining experience and that any dietary requirements must be made in advance to the venue when booking.
The tickets at the Opera House have sold out and the company have booked two further shows in Sydney CBD due to popular demand,
Thursday 27th April and Friday 2nd June at the Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, 169 Castlereagh Street Sydney.
Tickets can be purchased here: www.interactivetheatre.com.au
Clear your schedule, squeeze it in as a second dinner date and do whatever you need to do to secure these tickets. Make sure you don’t miss