On Sunday I headed into The Rocks as part of the Pop-Up Festival and only slightly distracted by the markets, I caught Outrageous Fortune’s ‘Dinner and a Show’, playing until October 27th at 37 George St.
‘Dinner and a Show’ is the creation of a group of young artists who wanted to devise and perform theatre that young people would like to see and sought to challenge the idea that theatre is more than a traditional passive audience experience. With that in mind, ‘Dinner and a Show’ uses the convention of processional theatre where each room is set up as a different show that you move to at will and interact with over the course of the hour, some much more interactive than others.
For instance, after being welcomed by the maître die, Bendeguz Devenyi-Botos and waitress (and director) Ava Karuso, we were lead into a room entitled N.U.T.S, a self-help group where allergic reactions are merely manifestations of fear and we are all coached into reciting mantras and affirmations in regards to our fear of cashews. The real treat is that in each room, as the title would suggest, you are also supplied with food and so we left N.U.T.S with a cup full of peanut brittle. Anaphylaxis be damned, we were cured.
I was then personally guided out to the veranda where I was sat at the table of my ‘date’ for the evening, Paul Musumeci and we (by we, I mean me) engaged in series of tests to see whether I was his perfect match in his ‘Paul Musumeci’s Love Quest’ as I ate my way through our chocolate engagement cake. Things went awry when I tried to slice his hand open with the plastic knife (don’t ask me to role play- I will embrace it a little too readily) and so I left our date and headed off to see the ‘Doctor’ James Hartley as part of his performance of ‘The Cure’. For the record, liquid sugar solves most problems.
I then ventured out to the courtyard and saw Lillian Shaddick engulfing the table, filled with a feast of treats and was asked to ‘Feed Her’, the challenge to see how much and what combination of foods I would like to feed her. Maternal instincts kicked in and I did try to force her to snack on the vegetables.
The final show I caught was ‘You Can’t Tune a Piano’ performed by Patrick Richards, who cooked us a creamy tuna pasta dish whilst telling us his weight loss story. I missed ‘Morning Breakfast Hello’ but there was certainly plenty of choice on offer throughout the one hour experience.
‘Dinner and a Show’ would be a really fun experience to take your kids to- it’s family friendly and would especially appeal to the 10-14 year olds who would delight in its interactive and sweet temptations on offer. The portability of shows and experiences means that you are free to come and go as you wish and only involve yourself as much as you desire but certainly, a young audience would appreciate the active nature of the show.
The material itself has a way to go to appeal to a broader market- it does feel juvenile and underdeveloped in some regards but it doesn’t take away from the good-natured sense of the show and even old cynics like me appreciated the risk-taking involved by the performers (um- hello- I tried to slice Musumeci’s hand open- you don’t know what your audience will do). The performers had lots of energy, even if they haven't yet honed their skills.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly interactive experience in a great city location (I went Sunday for lunch so I could shop at the markets after), why not check out ‘Dinner and a Show’ for something different.