Hotelier Basil Faulty (Michael Davoren), his wife Sybil (Amanda McKay) and Spanish waiter Manuel (Andy Foreman) are your hosts in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, with The Aegean acting as their restaurant.
It wouldn’t make much sense to come to this if you didn’t know the TV show, but if you do, this is a very entertaining evening that will give you some snippets of memorable scenes, and some extensions as the characters find themselves in Melbourne. Fans of Polly shouldn’t be too upset by her omission, there’s plenty going on here with three actors.
The actors did a great job of capturing their characters’ attributes as they experience restaurant mishaps – Sybil’s shrill voice, distinctive grating laugh and quiet menace; Manuel’s flimsy grasp of English and naïve chimp-like walk; and Basil’s pained inflections, strained gestures and officious manner.
There are planned scenes at various stages of the evening, and actors circulate around the tables to interact with diners – the ability of the cast to ad lib shows how comfortable they are in their characters. The physical comedy is well done indeed, and gives the audience a chance, like it or not, to be a part of the action. It seemed that the audience enjoyed good laughs and byplay with characters as the night progressed.
Putting on a performance in a restaurant, rather than a theatre, and working around a three-course meal poses challenges, but the company do very well. If one was to quibble, in the big scenes they did tend to play one side of the room more than the other, and possibly could have made more use of the split-level nature of the restaurant to improve sight lines for those further from the action, but these are quite small points.
The timing of events and believable emotions of the characters contribute to make this a polished and professional show. For the review night, the farce continued as a fire drill in the show caused the arrival of the real fire brigade. Surely that demonstrates how convincing the actors were in discharging their roles, as well as their fire extinguishers. A visit to The Aegean this MICF is sure to result in an unconventionally memorable lunch or dinner.