Faulty Towers The Dining Experience @ Sydney Opera House

Verdict: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (reviewed opening night 12 February)

“Do we have a Frag in the room? A Frag?” calls Basil impatiently, while I stay silent, overthinking if he is referring to me. “OLIVIA FRAG?!” calls Basil one last time, on the brink of losing his temper. Meekly I put up my hand. “That’s me…” I stammer awkwardly “you mispronounced my name…”

Basil glowers at my obvious embarrassment, while the patrons laugh at the well deserved roasting I am about to get. And sure enough, Basil delivers a lashing of sarcasm, while Manuel prods and pushes me to my chair, anxious to get us all seated in time so we can start the show.

And so it was, an evening of absolute sheer terror and delight in this immersive Faulty Towers dining experience at Sydney Opera House. And when they say “immersive”, let me tell you, they absolutely mean it. Everyone is a target in this comedy of errors, from flying breadrolls to unexpected culinary ‘surprises’, while Basil stomps about, hurling abuse at his staff, and at the guests too.

The excruciating tension in the show was always relieved by its acerbic wit and side-splitting moments that have become embedded in our cultural psyche forever. Who could ever forget Basil’s insistence to “not mention the war?” Or Manuel’s frantic search for his rat Siberian hamster under the table? Many, if not most, of these iconic moments are woven into the 2-hour show, accentuated by hilarious improvisation and snarky one-liners as the situation invites. After entree was served (which was, to quote the show, ‘rather good, surprisingly’), it transpired most of us had too many knives but no fork with which to eat our main course. No matter, Basil was only too happy to help…with his trademark sneer, of course.

The actors assuming the roles of Basil, Sybil and Manuel do not simply imitate, they are the embodiment of their characters. The mannerisms, tone of voice and physicality are eerily spot on. I watched, absolutely fascinated, as they flitted and fumbled about from guest to guest, actualising the personas I had known since I was a little girl.

The audience thoroughly enjoyed their interactions with the trio throughout the evening, and happily obliged to be the centre of attention, no matter how inappropriate it would have been in any other context. There is a collective understanding that ‘this is how it’s meant to be’, and the more inappropriate it got, the funnier it was. I don’t think I have laughed so hard for so long in ages, especially not in a distinguished venue such as the Utzon Room with stunning harbour views, where decorum and dignity is the norm. No folks, be absolutely prepared to lose your dignity. And for heaven’s sake, don’t mention the war.

Faulty Towers The Dining Experience @ Sydney Opera House is directed by Alison Pollard-Mansergh and features Matthew Robson as Basil, Monique Lewis as Sybil and Andy Foreman as Manuel.

For tickets and showtimes, go to https://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/theatre/faulty-towers-dining-experience

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