You are instructed upon arrival to make friends at the Faulty Towers dining experience – although you’ll definitely be a hindrance to your hosts; and guests who head to the glitzy Radisson Blu hotel for dinner will have plenty to bond over as they dodge the bread rolls and pithy comments from trio of actors who serve, titalise and mock in equal measure.
The show in London may take place at a fancy hotel, but after soaking up the luxury atmosphere in the swanky bar, where we were witness to some rather worrying noises emanating from the adjacent kitchen’s swinging doors, we were summoned by party name – coming face to face with the intimidating Basil, who like John Cleese was tall and rather terryingfing!
After being ushered into a large conference room, where round tables covered by starched white cloths are the only nod to the upmarket premises, the real Faulty Towers experience began, and the scene was set for Basil, Sybil and Manuel (Polly had the night off) to serve, mingle and insult as they seemed fit.
The unscripted show appropriated all the best bits of the 70s series, and thankfully, I knew what to expect as there were far more insults than compliments! But my Italian friend was a little confused – especially as Basil’s pithy digs raised a laugh at other guest’s expense. Rather than try to whisper an explanation, I vowed to educate her post show, but by the end of the soup course, she was giggling along with the rest of us.
Food aside (you should not expect a culinary masterpiece), the Heinz tomato soup, warm bread rolls and wafer thin slice of butter for every guest was much appreciated when we were all eventually served. But the main course was bound to be controversial if you are vegetarian (like me!). Reminiscent of heckling a comedian, I had to admit that I had dietary requirements, and became a scapegoat for poor Manuel, who first delivered a plate of raw vegetables as my substitute. I was left hanging until Basil tracked me down and replenished me with a vegetable stir fry, which I hastily scoffed as most of my table had already finished their plate of chicken.
Even though it was a dinner as well as a show, the actors didn’t leave us in peace to eat! All three weaved between the tables, interacting with guests and occasionally feeding them, and it was this improvisation which kept us on our toes.
Using some classic scenes from the series, including the infamous pet rat moment where we were all instructed to peer under the tablecloths to try and locate Manuel’s special friend; and standing up to get ready to evacuate during the fire drill, which worked well with a live audience – and it really felt like we had been transported to the original TV show. This was helped by the immaculate representations of the original cast, who had the mannerism and accents of Cleese, Scales and Sachs’ comedy timing down to a T.
Apart from having to pop to the bar to replenish drinks, and the bathroom in the basement, this was a very enjoyable two hours of entertainment. Offering the perfect combination for a celebration or date night, but you won’t be able to hide as the ingenious seating plan means they know exactly who is sitting where…
If old school insults, propaganda and a good dollop of misunderstanding make you chuckle, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience will provide a much needed reprise from the last dreary eighteen months of the pandemic, just don’t ask if the kippers are out of date!
Find out more on how to book online.
Radisson Blu Edwardian
9-13 Bloomsbury Street