Reviewer: Bill Avenell
Surprisingly perhaps, Cleese and Connie Booth only wrote 12 episodes of the classic programme but many of the legendary bits are included in this performance (the rat, the German, the betting slip, the false teeth in the soup) and here lies a bit of a problem because of course they never were intended to be included in the same show and putting them all together makes the current production something of a mish-mash. But then this ‘Dining Experience’ is indeed just that and, taken at face value, eating a surprisingly palatable 1970’s meal, (credit to Jury’s Inn), surrounded by three very good impressions of Basil (Jonathon Saunders), Sybil (Karina Garnett) and Manuel (Oliver Harrison), provides an enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
All three actors pick up those famous mannerisms well with Garnett perhaps the best of all as she replicates Sybil’s outrageous laugh, gives another touch to her hairdo and then ‘Basil!!’
The show is presented by Interactive Theatre International, a title which produces a bit of concern in the bar beforehand over how much diners may be picked on and embarrassed but once the action moves to the more intimate dining room of three 10-seater tables the cast avoid, with the exception of finding the vegetarian German, making anyone’s night a nightmare.
Exactly how interactive it is is open to debate. While the actors are adept at the occasional put down they give the impression that too much witty repartee from the audience is not really appreciated. However, one of the bonuses is that they do interact with the resident staff helping to serve the meal and the interchange between Manuel and one of the Jury’s Inn waiters in fluent Spanish is a high-light even though no one knows what they are saying.
If ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’ then certainly the diners recovering over their cheesecake after the neat ending are enthusiastic to a guest. It lives up to the ‘Experience’ title but don’t go for a relaxing evening out and make sure you start eating as soon as any food arrives in front of you.
Runs until 29 May 2016: Image: Contributed