I have not laughed so hard in ages. And I’ll tell you why.
No, it’s not because my boss fell down the stairs or because Hurricane Michael ripped-off Donald Trump’s ridiculous comb over. It was in fact those blokes from Faulty Towers — The Dining Experience who did all the damage to my jaws, belly and overall well-being.
I laughed so much I cried.
But it was all in the name of fun, glorious fun as the QE2, the retired ocean liner now living life as a floating hotel in Dubai, hosted the award-winning ensemble from the London’s West End, for the first of three shows on Wednesday evening.
Having watched, as a kid, some episodes of the universally-loved series created by Britain’s comedy royalty, John Cleese, I pretty much knew, or thought I knew, what to expect.
But how wrong was I! Faulty Towers — The Dining Experience, which is an immersive comedy based on a fictional hotel in a seaside town on the English Riviera, involves the cast of Basil, Sybil and Manuel creating chaos as they attempt to serve diners a three-course meal.
Mayhem perhaps is a better word as the hamster-loving, Chaplin-esque Manuel tosses peanuts to the diners, Basil almost chokes people to death as he sloppily wraps napkins around their unsuspecting necks and guests are warned not to dive into their carrot soup until they have taken a good look at their bowls.
Thank god for the words of caution by Basil, because much to the horror of one lady guest, she discovered a pair of dentures in her soup.
So I guess you’re getting the picture by now.
The obnoxious hotel owner Basil, his acerbic wife Sybil, and the bumbling Spanish help Manuel, were brilliantly portrayed by Hayden Dan Wood, Katina Garrett and James Heatlie respectively. Right down to the mannerisms and interaction with the diners throughout the two-hour meal.
And what better venue to stage a show of this nature than aboard the historic QE2 which has become a major tourist destination and entertainment hub in Dubai.
The action begins in the lobby of the Grand Lounge on the Upper Deck of the ship which is docked at Port Rashid in Bur Dubai.
Basil, Sybil and Manuel provide a hit of what it to come as they welcome guests on board with affronts and sarcasm — is that a denim dress you’re wearing ma’am, nice sneakers for a royal occasions or ‘Manuel’ just leave her hair alone, it’s not going to do her any good.
Once seated at their tables, couples and guests are led through a series of understandings and slapstick humour at its very best, that was patented by the incomparable Cleese, in the 70s.
Basil, Sybil and Manuel are trained actors and dealt with a scripted routine with consummate ease, sometimes improving and giving freshness to age-old ‘Fawlty Towers’ comicality.
Basil is a master at meeting you in the eye and making you feel somewhat self-conscious, while Sybil’s headmistress persona not only intimidates her husband and poor Manuel, it had several members of the audience oftentimes covering their faces in self-defence.
Basil even warns Manuel that his wife “can kill us with her tongue — it’s been listed as a lethal weapon by the United Nations!”.
In between the acerbic ripostes there were many, many joyful moments that had members of the audience doubling up in laughter.
The show ended with a bang, fire extinguishers and slapstick madness at its finest.
And oh, by the way, the three-course meal was light, healthy and delicious.
Faulty Towers — The Dining Experience ends on Friday, September 20.