Adelaide Fringe. Stamford Plaza Hotel. 16 Feb 2019
They have it down to a fine art. And so they should. It’s 20 years since the Faulties started touring the world with their high-energy interactive dinner show.
It’s a hoot.
They have braved a number of Fringe Festivals and are back again, this time in the Stamford Plaza where an incongruously elegant three-course dinner accompanies a thoroughly madcap show.
It is just a cast of three but they generate mayhem and hilarity while at the same time ensuring that everyone gets fed their proper three course meal; plus bread rolls, of course. Bread rolls make for heaven on a schtick and have the audience in hysterics at the general anarchy of the service. Professional wait staff glide discreetly through from time to time just to keep things tidy and streamlined.
This is not the Fawlty Towers TV script by John Cleese and Connie Booth. It is a faulty Fawlty performed by quick-witted impersonators. With a thematic plot line, they use their considerable improvisational skills to interact with audience members while recreating the spirit of that hopeless fictional guest house set in the English seaside town of Torquay. The cast astutely identifies key punters who will provide grist for the comic mill as they work the room very thoroughly, over and over. They are relentlessly vigorous. The show is alive with Manuel’s wild translation errors, Basil’s imperious bossiness and Sybil’s endless efforts to pour oil on the troubled waters of Basil’s bad behaviour. It is a well-conceived and well executed take-off, an homage if you will.
Audience members are kept on the edge of their seats but they are unthreatened, albeit on the night this critic attended, Manuel was so worried that Sybil would see one young man’s vividly tattooed arm that he fetched gaffer tape and wrapped the arm securely in a table napkin.
Interestingly, there are people who have never heard of Fawlty Towers who buy tickets to this show and they not only get the gags but say they also enjoy the air of love in the room.
Playing the Adelaide Fringe are Rob Langston, a very tall and impeccably English Basil who shamelessly bullies Manuel, fearlessly dives under tables, goose steps, and has crack- ups. Nicholas Richard is an hysterically convincing Manuel, all naiveté and hapless willingness. Rebecca Fortuna, in a perfectly terrible wig, plays prim Sybil, ever riding shotgun in the wake of her husband’s abominations. She’s a breath of sanity. Just a breath. The show is generally off the wall and deliciously crazy.
And, there’s an excellent bar.
When: 16 Feb to 3 Mar
Where: Stamford Plaza Hotel