James Munro fights his fear of ‘interactive theatre’ and braves a three-course dinner themed on 70s cult classic Fawlty Towers.

There are two words which seem to scare the pants right off my skinny frame: ‘interactive theatre’.

Whilst I like to pride myself on being a pretty out-going person, who enjoys the cultural things in life, I also like to think of my escapes to the theatre as an escape, from the day to day, from stress, from human interaction.

I’d always been a Fawlty Towers fan, thanks to my Grandmother Marge and her Saturday afternoon viewing habits, but when an invitation to a Faulty Towers ‘interactive’ themed dinner party put on at the Opera House comes across my desk – I’m a little apprehensive. Ha, let’s be honest, I am scared.

But who says no to a three-course meal put on by the wonders that be from Quay restaurant (who provided the food for the performance). So I sidled inside the lovely Utzon Room, apprehensively sticking to the back of the room, trying not to be targeted by Manuel, Basil, or Mrs Fawlty already running around serving canapés.

“Manuel, MANUEL! Seat the guests” and a roll-call begins. Being one of the last in, I’m left without a seat, sticking out like the proverbial sore thumb. Anxiety rushes through as I look for possible quick exit points.

When, from out of nowhere, Manuel appears – making my dining partner squat on all fours. “Chair, you sit,” he says in his Spanish accent.

When I tell him I couldn’t possibly do that, he responds in a distinctly Manuel fashion.“Me no English”.

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While Basil promptly finds me a more permanent seating situation, the comedy routine continues. It’s fast-paced, witty, funny and true to the show. I’m embarrassed by my initial reluctance; this isn’t so bad, in fact, it’s actually bloody funny, and that’s without mentioning the food.

I find the ‘interactive’ nature of this dinner party, isn’t quiet so, as much as it is a well-rehearsed, thoroughly enjoyable, not to mention a hilarious battle of wits, patience, fire extinguishers and fine food.

Basil gets me a drink, Manuel garnishes my empty plate and Mrs Fawlty floats around as the matriarch of the anarchy that surrounds me.

Familiar or not with the Fawlty Towers television show, the dining experience quickly sees to it that whilst most diners are true fans, if you’re not, it really doesn’t matter. You will understand the jokes, and you will find it distinctly hilarious.

When I’ve finished my dessert and the show ends, I quickly realise my fears coming in, were unnecessary – and I’m left with a severe pang of disappointment it hasn’t lasted longer.


Faulty Towers The Dining Experience is touring Victoria, NSW, Queensland and ACT  from November to December, after visiting 20 countries. For venues and dates see interactivetheatre.com.au