‘Dinner is Coming’, The Vaults’ latest immersive dining experience, is a dinner theatre parody of ‘Game of Thrones’; although the creators have been fastidious in their efforts to omit any mention of that series, presumably to avoid legal action: so Lannister becomes Bannister and ‘Jon Snow’, ‘Johns Know’! Some of the audience seemed to find this running gag hilarious – I was not one of them.
The experience starts with every audience member being assigned to one of the four famous Kingdoms via a coloured wristband, before we are directed into an amphitheatre style space, where actors mingle amongst us as we purchase our drinks.
Soon the action begins, with a right royal death early on which we are charged with solving: we are invited to switch our allegiance (and our wristband) to join another house deserving our loyalty and who we believe to be innocent of any murderous misdeeds. Audience members who make the right choice are offered a free glass of wine by way of reward at the end of the evening.
We are then taken by the head of our house to a small tented base where we are given more detail and clues about the crime and our leader’s true character before being shown into the dining room – impressively decked out for a wedding feast, Kings Landing style.
Once seated, food then starts to appear, each course intermingled with scenes, clues and the introduction of new characters as we feast on Pea and Garlic soup (creamy and delicious), Lamb Shoulder with roasted veg (rich & plentiful) and a Poached Pear (not as good as a pudding/pie). The food was actually lovely: high quality and tasty with plenty to go around, and was more of a highlight than the theatre, which was less tasteful and spread a thin concept to its limits.
The website for the experience invited audience to attend in fancy dress, and a few did (like the gentleman in my ‘House’ who laughed loudly at any ‘in’ joke and, without a trace of irony called the barman ‘lad’ when ordering a drink). Diehard GoT geeks like him seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves, immersed in this world and its medieval stylings. For me though, the same comical strings were plucked over and over: we’d had every veiled incest joke and golden hand sex pun by the time the (overly long) 2.5 hours had elapsed. Comedically, the show was most effective when it referenced the modern day (a Marie Kondo joke from ‘Dani Tarragon’ particularly hit the spot), though this happened too rarely.
The cast were mostly good, with Laurence Pears particularly funny as dim Johns Know and Charlotte Newton John excelling with her easy humour and witty improv.
The show would benefit from a good trim, which would not only prevent it dragging but also stop the same material being trodden over and over. Dinner is Coming and it’s good too, it just needs to be shorter.
Reviewed by Jody Tranter
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