John Cleese may take legal action against an Australian theatre company staging The Faulty Towers Dining Experience is slated to run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival next month.
The production, by Interactive Theatre International, began in 1997 inspired by the Fawlty Towers characters Basil, Manuel and Sybil, and has since been seen by over half a million people featuring “nine teams of cast touring the world virtually non-stop.”
The show has received good reviews. But while a recent season at the Sydney Opera House cost up to $195 for dinner and show, John Cleese and co-writer ex-wife Connie Booth, have not received a cent.
Cleese today told Fairfax, “If they’ve been going for 20 years without paying us a penny, they could well owe us a very significant amount.
“They didn’t ask our permission and we didn’t know it was happening on this scale,” he said. “If little groups are making some money that’s not a problem, but this is entirely different.”
Ms Pollard-Mensargh, founder and artistic director of Interactive Theatre International, told Fairfax,
“We understand that John Cleese has made a comment to the media concerning dinner theatre.
“We do not know if his comments were intended to be directed at our show, which has been running for nearly 20 years. If his comments were directed at us we reject them – they are misleading and inaccurate. We are huge fans of his work and wish him all the best with his new show.”
This week Cleese introduced actor Stephen Hall to media as the official Basil from the upcoming Fawlty Towers Live production, which has its world premiere in Sydney in August.