Title: Journey to the Underworld
Style: immersive dining
Where: Pedley Street Station, Bethnal Green
When: Until 7th November
To note: make them aware of food allergies etc.
Dinner theatre is back and it’s gone immersive. This show – set in the main in a well-appointed train carriage journeying to hell – is great fun, if a little on the silly side.
The story is pretty basic – the train’s conductor is actually a long-lost lover of a woman kidnapped by the master of hell to be his bride. For a thousand years, he’s been seeking to rescue her and tonight could be the night. Simple Fairytale fare.
The same cannot be said for the food which was anything but simple. From the sumptuous butternut squash amuse bouche to the divine chocolate and honey dessert each course was sophisticated and delightful. It didn’t necessarily match the Hammer Horror production of the play, but the interplay worked surprisingly well. I wasn’t drinking, but I was also told by companions that the cocktails were seriously up to scratch too.
Combining theatre with food has always been a tricky business (my favourite depiction will always remain Kevin Kline’s bravura performance in the much underrated Soapdish – churning out Death of a Salesman as the elderly complain about their chicken). Immersive theatre is a great answer to this. Of course the audience are noisy and rowdy – eating and drinking with abandon. They’re supposed to be – that’s part of the production.
So the cast running around serving our food, clearing our plates and keeping the story ticking along to be timed with the food (exceptionally well done here) seemed just natural. But making immersive theatre – especially a play about travelling to the underworld on a first class train – seem normal takes a great deal of skill. Claude the Conductor and his assistant Gordy did just that.
This is not the kind of immersive theatre that will challenge your inner being. It didn’t change my perspective on life and death, love or burlesque. But it was a rollicking night out. Sometimes that’s the real key.