For a show that relies on audience interaction, COVID-19 has changed 'Faulty Towers' like never before.
The team from 'Faulty Towers The Dining Experience' usually spend their time travelling the world, interacting with audiences in more than 40 countries, and creating new storylines as they go, in a show presented by Interactive Theatre International which is over 70 per cent improvised, based on the beloved 1970s British sitcom 'Fawlty Towers'.
Joining the cast in 2020, right before the world turned upside down, Adelaide local Jack Newell takes on the role of Basil in the new, COVID-safe production as part of this year's Adelaide Fringe. Growing up in Adelaide, what are your memories of the Fringe?
Growing up in Adelaide, I always remembered February and March being really big months for Adelaide as you had the Clipsal and more importantly for a theatre and acting kid, the Adelaide Fringe Festival. I would scour the newspaper and look for shows that I liked the look of and beg my mum to take me. I was involved in a few in my high school years as well. One acting alongside my twin brother in an Annesley College production of 'Our Country's Good'. It was always a time of magic and great buzz in the beautiful city of Adelaide and for a few months the city really felt alive. You could walk around the city and visit the Garden Of Unearthly Delights and there was just this energy in the air that is unmatched in any other Australian city. This is the show's 14th year at Fringe – how are you preparing for the run?
With 13 shows under my belt now it really allowed me to fully settle into 'my' Basil and really hone in on the character and what works and doesn't work with audiences. Of course Basil just can't walk around the whole show and degrade everyone, there has to be some sort of love/hate relationship with Basil and the audience and vice versa. To be honest, I'm training really hard at the gym now, more than ever as I realise just how physical this role is and how energetic and charged you have to be for a solid two to three hours. It's hard to come down from a show like that after a particularly amazing show and responsive audience so meditation is a big part of how I wind down as an actor when the night's show is done and dusted.
You've just come off the back of filming 'The Amazing Race' Australia – how was the experience?
'The Amazing Race' was life-changing, it really brought myself and my twin brother closer together as before we even started we had to be quarantined in a hotel for 15 days due to COVID-19. Being stuck in a room with someone for that long really brings you closer together as well as makes you a bit loony! Or in my case, loonier! It was extremely tough mentally, physically and spiritually and watching it now it would be so hard to fit everything that took part in that race in just a 90-minute episode each night but I'm extremely happy with how us as a team have been conveyed. Being called the 'Twin Models' comes with its own list of expectations from Australian audiences and I hope we showed that we are more than just tall, good-looking brothers! Give us three words which describe 'Faulty Towers' and why people should come see it this year in Adelaide?
Hilarious, heartwarming, special. It being hilarious is a given, I mean look at the source material that we have to work with. Heartwarming as it is amazing as an actor in this show how audiences really come together in this structure of a show and really make it their own. Tables that don't know each other interact and laugh with each other and each and every night is a completely different show as you have an entire new group of people. Lastly, special, as there is nothing really like this. You walk in, you are escorted by characters that you know and love, you are served a three-course meal and all the while everything and anything is going wrong! What's not to love?! And if you're thinking of coming along to a show just keep in your mind the wise words of Basil Fawlty: "NO RIFF RAFF!" 'Faulty Towers The Dining Experience' plays Adelaide Oval Pavilion (Adelaide Fringe) 19 February-7 March.