Fawlty at Bangers Bar and Grill

There are various reasons for eating out – over and above that one simply doesn’t have the inclination to cook a meal oneself.  You may choose to dine at a restaurant for the quality of the food, or perhaps as a social occasion where food quality may take second place to the company, or perhaps you can dine out at a dinner show where one sits and watches some kind of entertainment while one eats.  However a Slice of Fawlty Towers at City wine bar Bangers Bar and Grill (2-12 Wilson Street, between Moorgate and Liverpool Street Stations in the City) provides a combination of most of the above – and a good degree of participation in the latter as well.

The concept is a fun one – and draws on the inept, frenetic and often excruciatingly embarrassing experiences suffered by the staff and guests of the fictional Torquay hotel, Fawlty Towers, inflicted by Basil and Sybil Fawlty and ever-suffering, linguistically-challenged Manuel from Barcelona.  To encompass all this into an evening of entertainment and reasonable food at a reasonable price is what was accomplished by the Bangers wine bar, in conjunction with theatre group The Cut Productions.

What was initially interesting about the evening is that on turning up at the Bangers Bar there was no indication that the Fawlty-themed event was taking place and, indeed the bar was open to all so when the actors playing Basil, Sybil and Manuel arrived to start inflicting their mayhem on all and sundry drinking at the bar there were obviously a number present who were initially bemused – particularly when the bombastic Basil made his appearance, while about half those drinking there were, indeed fully aware of what was happening.  But Fawlty Towers is so well known that all pretty quickly fell into the swing of things and joined in the fun as the participants introduced themselves in their Fawlty Towers roles.  As The Cut Productions’ founder Steve Arber says, this often generates new business as people who have encountered the Fawlty trio in the bar often book up for future events. (Steve is a self-confessed non-actor and although he does play a part in the proceedings it is very brief – and non-speaking – as Chef.)

Slice of Fawlty Towers actors clowning it up

However, the main part of the evening takes place in the restaurant section, where the ‘guests’ will have pre-ordered their meals from a reasonably-priced three-course set menu (at £44.95 a head at Bangers).  They are led to their individual tables by Manuel in a suitably chaotic manner and when all seated the main event takes place.

One has to say that the service is actually probably better, and more accurate, than in the fictional TV show despite being undertaken by Basil, Manuel and a member of the Bangers staff – while Sybil files her nails, talks on the telephone and adds caustic comments into the proceedings.

A slice of Fawlty Towers at Bangers. Manuel serving, Sybil chatting to diners in the background

The entertainment does involve a certain amount of relatively passive participation by the diners and is partly scripted revolving around some events from the TV series (Manuel’s Siberian Hamster for example) but is mostly ad-libbed by the amusing trio of actors and, indeed, by some of the diners joining in.  Those participating certainly seemed all to be thoroughly enjoying  the evening with much laughter flowing throughout.  The actors playing Basil and Sybil (Tim Farmer and Suzanna Hughes) in particular do an excellent job and they both have the warring couples’ laughs off to a T.)

A slice of Fawlty Towers at Bangers is certainly worth considering as an alternative evening out for a highly entertaining variation on a normal restaurant meal.  Perhaps best to go in a group to get the most enjoyment.  The next ‘performance’ at Bangers is on August 22nd and then on October 10th.  As Bangers manager Julian Dove says –“A Slice of Fawlty Towers is always a sell-out at Bangers and the customers always rave about their evening. We love having the Fawlty Towers crew running our restaurant for the evening.”

As to the food Bangers provides a set menu with three choices for each course – including vegetarian options.  While perhaps not gourmet eating the selection on offer was excellent for a group event, well prepared and, as mentioned above service was actually pretty good belying the Fawlty tradition.  Bangers Bar and Grill is part of the Davy’s chain. On its normal menu it serves award winning steaks from butcher Donald Russell alongside other tasty dishes created by the executive chef. The trademark extensive wine list is carefully selected covering all the main regions with plenty available by the glass including Davy’s great value own label wines. For details of any other events there or for further information, call 020 7377 6326 or check the website www.davy.co.uk/bangers/

Bangers is not the only venue at which The Cut Productions shows feature, nor is A Slice of Fawlty Towers their only offering.  They are available for hire for private and corporate events – for details see their website www.thecutproductions.com  or contact steve@thecutproductions.com. The company is offering to present their show at a discounted fee for any company or organisation using Bangers for their Christmas party this year.

Lawrence Williams – June 2012