It’s a balmy night in the sizzling city of Bombay. A hot storm darkens the sky as the city elite line up to attend the opening night of the Bombay Roxy; a restaurant opened by Cyrus, a former criminal (played with a simple confidence by Vikash Bhai). In reality we’re watching our breath freeze in the cold London air and waiting for our slot at Dishoom’s new theatrical dining experience Night at the Bombay Roxy. It’s an incredible premise, Dishoom’s reputation for food precedes itself and the open, sprawling new restaurant allows for the actors a real freedom of movement.
Guests are ushered into the bar and the evening kicks off over welcome drinks. The plot is simple; a hardened and archetypally corrupt police inspector (an unrelentingly stern Harmage Singh Kalirai) is searching for an escaped convict and believes Cyrus has something to do with it. As luck would have it, he’s right. Various stereotypical characters emerge quickly; Farah the tough older woman behind all the restaurants’ hard work (Seema Bowri), Rudy the troubled victim (Manish Gandhi) and Sophie Khan Levy as the beautiful mistress, Ursula, who might be singing more than just the silky background music. You get the idea.
The plot feels a little ‘Agatha Christie meets Carry-On’, everything is wholly predictable and the big reveals and confessions fall flat of drama or intrigue. However, and this may sound contradictory, it was excellent. It would be unfair to judge this piece by other theatre’s standards. It’s not a play designed to absorb all your attention or require your brain cells to work overtime. Instead, you’re able to let the theatre be one of many elements that make up the overarching jovial atmosphere. The band is charmingly tucked in the corner, playing along with the show without discouraging dinner conversation. The staff were fantastic and completely in keeping with the spirit and imagination of the evening. They manage to be both attentive to your table and unobtrusive to the scenes. The real star of the show is still the food, served up to share between the table. It’s as reliability rich and flavoursome as is associated with Dishoom, as well as be delivered in generous portions.
I felt very briefly let down, I was hoping for a glittering cabaret mystery, reminiscent of an old film noir. It does feel like that’s what they’re trying for, but they reach for reveals and crescendos that just don’t quite amount to anything. However, there’s a decadence and genuine sense of fun to the evening, so much so that the predictability and slight farcical elements to the ending can be easily overlooked.
A Night At The Bombay Roxy isn’t a theatrical game changer, but the music is lively, the dining is leisurely and there’s glamour and charm by the bucket load.
A Night At The Bombay Roxy is playing at the Dishoom in Kensington until 14th December 2017. For more information and tickets, see nightatthebombayroxy.com.