Three courses, 70% improvisation and hundreds of laughs.
One Basil had to go back to England, another headed to America and the third Basil “popped his knee out during a show”, creating a sudden, desperate lack of Basils…
Which is why Cameron Hurry received a phone call, and a week later found himself on stage as Basil Fawlty.
Basil Fawlty is the enduring comic creation of Connie Booth, embodied by her co-writer John Cleese in the BBC television series Fawlty Towers. Although only a dozen half-hour episodes were made and first screened in the 1970s, the farce – set in a seaside hotel run by the pompous Basil, his wife Sybil and staffed by Polly (played by Booth) and Manuel – is widely considered to be the best British sitcom of all time.
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While there’s really only one true Basil, Faulty Towers The Dining Experience has created a small army of impersonators. Born in Brisbane, April 1997, the show is now an international institution, performed around the world by over 30 actors. The show’s residency in London’s West End has been running since 2012 and has held TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence for five years running.
“I’m a big fan of British comedy, Fawlty Towers and all those other 1970s ones, especially the physicality and the chaos, I find it very hilarious,” says Hurry, an actor with experience in film, TV and theatre, who took on the role of Basil in September of last year. Hurry will be making his personal debut at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival when the show returns from Thursday April 8 to Sunday April 18.
Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, which is on at the CBD’s Duke of Wellington Hotel, is an immersive show which transforms audience members into guests at Faulty Towers, where they are served an actual meal with a side-serve of laughs as chaos inevitably unfurls around them.
“The context of the show is that these people are coming to dine at Faulty Towers for the evening and they’re going to have an authentic Faulty Towers experience. Because you know, the food is not going to come out on time, you know the wrong people are going to be served, Manuel’s going to be all over the place and Basil’s trying to run the show and Sybil’s talking on the phone to her best friend Audrey,” Hurry says.
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There’s no Polly, however.
“Connie Booth in the TV show represented the audience. She was the voice of reason so that’s why we don’t have Polly in this show,” he explains.
The show blends improvisation, low-level audience participation and an original theatrical script.
“A lot of the very famous moments are recreated from the TV show but obviously we’re not using the direct scripts, because they are copyrighted and they are property of Connie Booth and John Cleese, so we do variations of all the very popular moments,” Hurry says.
While Faulty Towers The Dining Experience has been going for almost two and a half decades thanks to the original’s legions of fans, Hurry says you don’t need to know the television series to enjoy the live show.
“They’re hilarious characters and hilarious situations anyway,” he says, but predicts that once you see them live “you’ll definitely be a fan of the show and be watching those twelve episodes.”
Faulty Towers the Dining Experience goes down as part Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2021 from Thursday April 8 to Sunday April 18 (bar Monday). Grab tix here.