Thanks to Jane Sommerville for this review of The Faulty Towers Dining Experience at the Edinburgh Fringe. We’re delighted that Jane will be writing a food and restaurant column for Avocado Sweet.

A Faulty-less Foodie Adventure: The Faulty Towers Dining Experience

Edinburgh Fringe is a peculiar phenomenon. For the month of August, our poised and stately capital unbuttons its collar, kicks up its heels and indulges its inner enfant terrible with carnivalesque abandon.

Which is how I wound up at a show my more sensible self wouldn’t dare consider – a piece of ‘shudder’ Interactive Theatre. And so, in the spirit of digging out ostensible ‘foodie’ Fringe experiences, on Monday night I found myself in the company of Basil, Sybil and Manuel at the Faulty Towers Dining Experience. Based on the cherished 70s sitcom, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience is a two-hour long comedy extravaganza presented by Australian troupe Interactive Theatre International, set in a real restaurant, with real food and real diners.From the off, as audience members enjoyed an airport patdown from Manuel before being shown their seats, it was clear that this was to be the hapless Faulty Experience down to the last detail. And so the hijinks began. Before long, false teeth had turned up in the soup, underpants ended up on Manuel’s head, and my own innocent request for a bread roll was met with a whole baguette thrust onto my plate by an indignant Basil. Sybil boisterously serenaded no less than 6 birthday diners, and an escaped rat had us nibbling our incinerated chicken whilst Basil and Manuel bickered under our table. The whole irreverent, dizzyingly slapstick evening was rounded off in classic Fawlty style when Basil treated a sporting German couple to an enraged Nazi frogmarch.

As you’ll of course have guessed, a dining experience this certainly was, but a foodie one it was not: in spite of Basil’s assertions that this was “fine dining”, from the limp broccoli to the burnt soup (flavour: “Tesco” according to Manuel), this was a comedy rather than culinary masterpiece – but it only added rather than detracted from the evening. Kudos must go to the magnificent cast, with note-perfect mannerisms that brought the beloved television treasure back to life with spirited revelry. The show’s funniest moments, however, undoubtedly came from the actors’ lightning-quick improvisation, as their riffed off an audience who were utterly helpless with laughter. After 5 sell-out years, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience is now a success story on the Fringe landscape, in a well-deserved echo of the television show that inspired it. Five star food, no, but five star entertainment – without question, yes! The Faulty Towers Dining Experience runs lunch and dinner performances at B’est Restaurant on Drummond Street until 27 August – purchase tickets at www.edfringe.com.