Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience at Radisson Blu, Bloomsbury Street
The bite-sized cast of Faulty Towers took a delighted audience for a mirthful trip down memory lane at Friday night’s performance at the Radisson Blu in Bloomsbury (part of a year-long residency at the hotel).
Interspersed with highly quotable moments from the epochal series was a lively, largely improvised show featuring the beloved Manuel, Sybil and of course Basil. Sadly, Polly or Major were nowhere to be seen.
The audience were eager for abuse as they tittered at the bar before the show. Faulty Towers did not disappoint – from snarky comments about dietary requirements and outfit choices to Manuel’s earsplitting outbursts. Anthony Clegg drew a great emotional response from the crowd in his more vulnerable moments as Manuel (“But he is my friend, Mr Fawlty”). His bad English schtick grew tiresome early on however, after a couple of long drawn-out gags about “serving” nuts (like tennis balls) and “rolls” on a plate (somersaulting next to a plate on the floor).
The strongest character was clearly Basil, played to a T by David Tremaine, whose sour demeanour at the back of the room while Sybil talked to the guests was undeniably Fawlty-esque. He played the part with great devotion to John Cleese’s creation whilst miraculously avoiding caricature.
The cast as a whole delivered a sharp performance, fully committed to every word and movement, though Anthony Clegg and Rebecca Norris’s parts felt a little overplayed at times. Norris was quick to turn the show round on itself: while recounting a story of an Elvis impersonator she had taken singing lessons from, she confided to the guests, “I don’t know about you, but I don’t like impersonators.”
Devoted fans of the show were treated to more or less altered iconic scenes such as the fire drill, the horse racing bet, the drunken chef, and the famous Nazi walk for the grande finale when Basil loses his mind after a very stressful dinner indeed. “Have any of you actually tried running a hotel before? You are a bunch of underdressed, overprivileged, under-the-influence (pointing at some drunken hecklers in the audience) layabouts! This is how Nazi Germany started, you know.”
Overall, the experience was a joyful one, enhanced by a delicious main course of creamy gratin and tender chicken. Mixed tables meant that people got to interact not only with the show but with each other, a precious opportunity to step outside one’s comfort zone and warm up those innate social instincts after nearly two years off. The actors did a brilliant job harnessing the positive energy in the room, making it an unforgettable experience for all.
Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience is at Radisson Blu, Bloomsbury Street from 16th January until 31st December 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a promotional video for Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience here: