‘Fawlty Towers’, ‘Warty Towels’ or ‘Watery Fowls’ – however you remember this classic British sitcom, the comedic genius of John Cleese, Connie Booth and the rest of the Fawlty team has gone down in the history books.
With iconic moments like the Waldorf salad catastrophe and the ‘damn good thrashing’ of Basil’s red Austin 1300 ingrained in our minds, my colleague Stephanie and I were incredibly excited to be checking into the Torquay hotel more than 40 years since the final episode – this time to experience Faulty Towers, the Dining Experience at the Edinburgh Fringe, where we were to be served a three-course meal by the terrific trio – Manuel, Basil and Sybil.
Walking into the Principal on George Street, it took mere minutes for Basil to have us rolling around in laughter. Even before we had sat down to dinner, a guest list emerged from the hotelier’s pocket, calling forward each of the guests one by one. Having witnessed Basil berate certain individuals for sloppy appearances and too much chatter – and woe betide anyone who forgot to listen for their name – we were determined to pay careful attention for ours. However, through the din of the busy foyer we inevitably missed our turn, and Basil didn’t let us forget it.
When you make your way through to the dining room, guests may be surprised to find themselves put on a table with other festival-goers – aside from being the perfect opportunity to make new acquaintances, it created a joyful camaraderie as we went through the whole interactive experience together.
Soon enough, bread rolls were flying around the room as Manuel took care of the starters, Basil began scolding improper table manners and Sybil clicked around in her heels apologising for her husband’s hysterical anger. All three of them pitched their characters perfectly, and raucous cries of laughter reverberated across the entire room. From impromptu fire drills to an escaped rodent, all of the nods to the original series were excruciatingly well done.
As for the food, surprisingly it wasn’t all Waldorf salads and omelettes – and we didn’t dare ask for any French food for fear of being told to swim across the Channel to sharpen our appetites. Our soup starters were tasty and satisfying, especially with a healthy sprinkle of basil on top, courtesy of Manuel. (You can count yourself lucky, though, if all of it lands directly into your bowl).
The chicken mains were simple but delicious, with the creamy mustard mash being a favourite for us both. The dessert, which was a chocolate and passionfruit tart, was a sweetness overload that unfortunately neither of us could stomach, but truthfully we were too busy enjoying the show to even notice. The fact that the trio bid their audience adieu before dessert was a little disappointing, but it certainly left us wanting more.
For a good dinner and an ever better show – this one is a no brainer! It is a fantastic concept executed to perfection, and we can’t recommend this enough for fans of Fawlty Towers. It is two straight hours of side-splitting laughter guaranteed.