Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience
Rating: ★★★★
Venue: President Hotel, London

Join inept hoteliers Basil, Sybil and Manuel at the longest running immersive experience on the West End – Faulty Towers The Dining Experience!

With over 12 years of faultless service right in the heart of Bloomsbury, you’re in for a quintessentially British experience like no other as the iconic Basil, Sybil and Manuel serve up theatre and chaos alongside a 70s-style 3-course meal.

Mention "Fawlty Towers," and a smile lights up every British face. This iconic sitcom, written by John Cleese and Connie Booth in the 1970s, was crowned the greatest British TV sitcom by Radio Times in 2019.

"Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience," inspired by this legendary series, originated in Australia in 1997. It has since been gracing the President Hotel in London for over 12 years, making it the longest-running immersive experience in the West End. The moment you step into the hotel lobby, you are transported into the zany world of an eccentric hotelier, Basil, his wife Sybil, and the lovable Spanish waiter, Manuel. The show kicks off in the waiting area, where the trio brings absolute chaos while trying to accommodate guests.

The actors I had the honour of seeing were absolute gems of the current comedy scene. Despite loosely sticking to a script, their improvisational skills and convincing portrayals were truly remarkable. Rob Langston captured Basil's grumpiness and fake kindness perfectly, culminating in a hilarious finale with “still warm” pants on his head (you have to see it to believe it). Laura Sheppard as Sybil was a delight, always smiling at guests while scolding her husband, with a distinctive bright and noisy voice that made me believe she talks like that in real life. Lastly, Anthony Clegg as Manuel was a show-stealer, brilliantly embracing the character’s Spanish heritage and improvising in a way that made you laugh out loud. 

The trio's performance is the highlight of the experience. They interact with each table, reading the room perfectly. Whether you want to participate in the fun or simply sit back and enjoy the show, the actors respect your choice, making the experience enjoyable for everyone. The only let-down was the food, which was quite mediocre and bland. However, the stellar acting made up for it, serving as the main course of the evening.

One aspect that could improve the immersion is the setting. The dining area, resembling a corporate event space, lacked any 1970s diner décor. While I understand the constraints of a hotel venue, small touches like dimmed lamps, old radios, vintage clocks, or a small carpet could significantly enhance the atmosphere. This omission slightly downgraded the overall experience.

Nevertheless, "Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience" is a show worth seeing. There's nothing faulty about the wonderful hotel trio who make you cry with laughter and bring back fond memories of the iconic sitcom. And for those looking for more Fawlty Towers magic, "Fawlty Towers: The Play" is now showing at the Apollo Theatre—a performance I am eager to see soon. 

You can book tickets to Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience, here.

Review by Maria

**photo credit: Jane Hobson **

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