Review: Dinner is Coming, The Vaults

Some properly tasty food makes the Game of Thrones-inspired immersive show Dinner is Coming an entertaining night indeed at The Vaults

“Poor Tom-Tom”

Stepping into the world of immersive experiences as a reviewer can be a tricky business. Given the sums of money that can be charged and the subjectiveness of your time there, to be able to put one’s hand on one’s heart and say you should put your hand on your wallet is rife with difficulty. I had one of my all-time greatest adventures on my first trip on You Me Bum Bum Train and my one and only venture to Secret Cinema had a moment of unforgettable pure magic but ask me about value for money, for you, and I’m stumped.

Which is a long-winded way of saying you should take this review with a pinch of salt. Although you won’t need to add any salt because the cooking here at Dinner is Coming is really, really good. If you’ve been wondering what you should eat for dinner look no further! Designed and prepared onsite by Chavdar Todorov, Steven Estevez and their team, this is the kind of meal that comes close to justifying the ticket price alone. I always thought life was too short to roast a cauliflower but not any more, the slow-cooked lamb shoulder is melt-in-your-mouth delicious and yet somehow it is the salad that I remember the most – courgette, lettuce, beetroot and peas in a pesto-flecked dressing that makes every ingredient truly sing. Continue reading “Review: Dinner is Coming, The Vaults”

Review: The Best Man, Playhouse

The Best Man, Playhouse Theatre, London

Martin Shaw returns to the West End in US political thriller The Best Man, its relevance to today’s White House painfully clear

“The important thing for any government is educating the people about the issues, not following the ups and downs of popular opinion”

With American politics being the shitshow that it currently is, the temptation to lampoon Trump at every and any opportunity is one that many theatre directors have been unable to resist. A wilier creative mind might regard this as too on the nose (and already overdone) and find an alternative way to critique our transatlantic cousins, at least an avalanche of Brexit plays puts the boot on the other foot.

And that is what Simon Evans’ revival of Gore Vidal’s 1960 play The Best Man has done. After touring the UK last year, it arrives at the Playhouse Theatre with a slight sense of stateliness about it but also alive to how just how much of what was written nearly 60 years ago has to say about today’s political establishment. With a cast that includes Martin Sheen and Maureen Lipman, plus a cracking performance from Philip Cumbus, there’s something interesting here that rises above some slightly dated writing and aspects of a political system long left behind. Continue reading “Review: The Best Man, Playhouse”

DVD review: About Time

“Get ready for spooky time”

To criticise a film about time travel for not possessing the most stringent internal logic might seem perverse (though it has never stopped those who watch Doctor Who…); to criticise a Richard Curtis film for being utterly daft feels likewise misintentioned, his work is what it is. But there’s something really rather frustrating about his 2013 work About Time that is determined to have its cutesy cutesy pie and eat it, saccharine sweetness and all.

It is as much a father/son love story as it is a boy/girl romance in which Domhnall Gleeson’s nerdishly appealing Hugh-Grant-a-like Tim, is the son of an upper-class boho family – troubled-but-not-too-much sister (Lydia Wilson), check; slightly doolally uncle (Richard Cordery), check; perfect parents (Lindsay Duncan and Bill Nighy), check. And wouldn’t you know it, it turns out the men in this family have the power to travel back in time by closing their eyes and squeezing a fist. Continue reading “DVD review: About Time”

Review: The Cement Garden, Vault Festival

“Thing is pet, maybe you’re better on your own”

Under the cement and brick of Waterloo lies The Cement Garden, an interpretation of Ian McEwan’s highly regarded novel which is one of the centrepieces of the six week Vault Festival. Adapted by David Aula and Jimmy Osborne, it tells the disturbing story of what happens when four children are orphaned and end up retreating from society rather than notifying the authorities they believe would split them up.

Aula, who also directs, has chosen a deliberately varied and theatrical approach to the production. So the youngest child Tom is played by the oldest man in the cast, David Annen who manipulates a puppet boy. But the central couple of the two oldest kids, Jack and Julie, are played with an exceptionally punchy, naturalistic force by Ruby Bentall and BAFTA Rising Star Award nominee George MacKay. Continue reading “Review: The Cement Garden, Vault Festival”