The welcome: On arrival, we are ushered upstairs to the bar. Tatty furniture stained with clinical accuracy, peeling paint and corrugated iron create the atmosphere of a dismal granny’s living room, enhanced by the occasional train thundering overhead. A Bellini is served deconstructed: prosecco, a liquorice root for stirring and a tube of ‘hug-tite’ glue (peach purée).
The room: The event is split between two rooms: the Twits’ garden and the dining room. The garden, complete with the Big Dead Tree rendered in metal and black gaffer tape, is chaotic and dismal (in a good way). After hunting for canapés (not a particularly difficult hunt; they are mostly in plain sight) we are cajoled by the Twits and their monkeys through to the dining room for the main event.
The food: The canapés were not an inspiring bunch on the whole: tough chicken hearts in a sauce supposed to be Bloody Mary but more like a slightly spicy watered down glue, lukewarm pieces of fried pigeon, dry spaghetti. The stilton and roasted pineapple, nailed in pairs to little bonsai trees, did hit the mark, and the ‘burnt bangers’ (coated in poppy seeds) were pleasant, but two or three tasty if unremarkable bites were not enough to make up for the rest, or for the overcrowding.
After 20 minutes or so of bumping into people and hunting for canapés, Mr. and Mrs. Twit (Chris Barlow and Lizzy Dive) make their entry. Their costumes are perfection: grimy, stained, and bombastic. Both give huge energy, and while they are in the room laughter is frequent, as are exclamations of disgust at their awful behaviour. Sadly, their piece is over all too soon and we are herded into the hall for the dinner.
Here, the food improves. The bird pie is rich and well flavoured, with a striking cock’s talon rising up from the centre. New potatoes are served in a rather tasty olive soil. But the ‘six-legged slaw’ is sadly devoid of any interesting insect surprises and turns out to be fairly unremarkable coleslaw, and the bubbling slime-green parsley sauce is visually impressive but tastes of nothing. Eventually a passable trifle is brought to the table, though the sassafras syrup the biscuits have been soaked in can hardly be detected and there seems to be no good reason to have caffeinated the lime jelly.
The theatre: Although both Twits give powerful, engaging performances, they are not enough on their own to keep close to 70 guests entertained with close encounters throughout dinner.
Overall, the commitment to ‘immersive theatre’ is also lacking; the bartenders, for example, have clearly not been instructed to be ‘in character’.
It seems that the food and theatre are supposed to be equal partners in this adventure, and as such there is not room for a plot as one would expect from a standalone play. This might work if the food were excellent, but as things were the show felt lacking in subtlety and overly reliant on occasional (admittedly very funny) gags.
Would we go again? No. At over £80 per person, we could eat from an excellent pre-theatre menu then see a West End show, and frankly we’d rather do that.
|What||Dinner at The Twits review:|
|Where||The Vaults, Leake St , London , SE1 8SW | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
04 Sep 16 – 30 Oct 16, 18:00, 19:15 and 20:30 Mon - Sat; 13:15, 14:30 Sat; 12:00, 13:15, 14:30 and 15:45 Sun
|Price||£80 - £110|
|Website||Click here to book via Dinner at the Twits|