The Birth of a new Basil and Sybil

lara paul

 We recently welcomed Lara Dignam and Paul Geoghegan into the Aussie Faulty family. Having auditioned early in 2013, they rehearsed in March with our team at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Joined by long-standing company member Daley Donnelly (Manuel) and with artistic director Alison Pollard-Mansergh there too, they had their first performance in June at the Warwick Show & Rodeo Society Dinner in southern Queensland. This is what they said afterwards…

FT:       How were you feeling before your rehearsal on Friday? [the day before the Warwick show]

Paul:    I think my main concerns were hoping to impress Ali and to do a good job in general. I was also hoping to have a good rapport with Daley.

Lara:    Somewhat anxious!

FT:       And after your rehearsal?

Paul:    I was a bit brain dead. Learning and polishing in four hours what we covered in a week in Melbourne. When I got home I couldn’t think of a single thing I had done all day.

Lara:    Amazing what putting on the wig and frilly shirt does for your character development!

FT:       What was going through your mind on the drive to Warwick?

Paul:    I spent the two hour drive enjoying the scenery. And listening to select episodes of Fawlty Towers to get me in the spirit of things. When we got to Warwick, I found a coffee shop and had some quiet time having a good coffee and reading over the script one last time.

Lara:    I can’t believe the motel manager in Brisbane snubbed me because I’m in theatre and not on TV! I AM super important!!

FT:       First impressions when you got to the Warwick Rodeo?

Lara:    We were welcomed by seven year old twins wearing pink cowboy hats named Raven and Justice. It was a beautiful, peaceful area with friendly and eager people.

Paul:    The first ten minutes of the show felt awkward but once we got everyone seated I was on. Daley and I found some good comedy with the way Manuel had set the table. And then the night went by with nearly no hitches.

FT:       Were there any funny and/or frightening moments during your debut?

Paul:    I don’t care to admit one minor thing that happened!

Lara:    The moustache falling off (shouldn’t have bought the cheap glue Basil!).

FT:       The post-mortem?!

Paul:    Afterwards I felt good. Nothing was missed. No one got hurt. And everyone had a good time. For a debut performance, it was a good-sized audience to perform for. And performing with Lara and Daley was a delight. I can’t wait to perform with them again.

Lara:    Glad the first one is over and looking forward to the next one.


Paul and Lara are now touring Australia.

For more information about our cast members, go to the Actors page on our website.
For show dates around the world, go to the Tickets page on our website.

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Introducing… Donna Gray

Donna Gray Headshots-137 ret

This week we’ll be introducing Donna Gray, an experienced screen and stage actor and masters graduate from Drama Centre CSM. Donna has been playing Sybil in Faulty Towers The Dining Experience for just over a year now and has toured around the world to Barbados, Portugal, Ireland and our London West End residency at The Charing Cross Hotel.


Q1: What’s your favourite part of working with Faulty Towers The Dining Experience so far or favourite Faulty moment?

A: Travelling around the world with the show. My most recent highlight was performing alfresco on the veranda of Holders House in Barbados for the Holders Season 2013. We were on the bill amongst acts like Paul Merton and Russell Watson and we did two sell out shows overlooking the Caribbean Sea!

Apart from the travelling – whacking Basil around the head with a tray of nuts every night is always a highlight!

Donna at Holders House, Barbados (March 2013)

Donna at Holders House, Barbados (March 2013)

Q2: Describe yourself in 3 words.

A: Driven, impatient and blonde!

Q3: What’s your best (or worst) corpsing story?

A: There once was a man who laughed like a performing seal throughout the night. During an important silence in the show – where Sybil turns and catches Basil out – he was sitting right under my nose and as I was glaring at Basil he burst out laughing, or should I say barking! The rest of the audience and myself had to just turn and watch him. It was hard to contain myself but Sybil calmly turned to him and said “Are we related?” then laughed in her usual machine-gunning seal way herself! 
 As I left the room the corners of my mouth started to turn up uncontrollably and on reaching the kitchen I just fell about laughing! (You had to be there!)

Q4: What similarities and differences are there between you and the character you play?

A: Scarily, there are quite a few! 
I like to chat, 
I have tendencies to say ‘I know’ and ‘Really?’ I have big hair 
and I love a matching two piece!

Q5: If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?

A: A Dragon of course! Or if you mean a real one, maybe a Parrot: I talk too much and preen myself (a bit like Sybil!). Or a Sheep because I’m mutton dressed up as lamb! 
Or a Golden Retriever as I’m very blonde and eager to please!

Q6: Who’s your favourite other cast member to share a dressing room with and why?

A: Ooh that’s a tough one! Can I have a few?

Jack (Basil) because he always comes with gifts of cheese or chocolate for after show treats and he plays the Beatles on his iPod.

Brian (Manuel) because we have a ritual of singing Bohemian Rhapsody as loud as we can to warm up pre-show.

Paul (Basil) because he never fails to have a story of the day to share with us and his determination to get the live match on his iPad gives a good energy in the room.

Q7: If your character had a dating profile, what do you think it would say?

A: Chic, tenacious, domineering woman with excellent social skills seeks tall, dark and handsome male with a good pedigree!

Q8: What was your last tweet or Facebook status?

A: “Linda’s Veggie Sausages to the rescue #cupboardsarebare #lunch #hurryupandcook”

Q10: What don’t you leave home without?

A: A bag of nuts and raisins and enough money for a skinny latte.

Q11: Do you have any hidden talents?

A: I can still do the splits!


If you want to see Donna in action, in both Faulty Towers and other clips, check out her 2013 Showreel:

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