Review: Dinner Is Coming, The Vaults

As we queue outside The Vaults in a graffiti covered tunnel in Waterloo waiting for Dinner is Coming, an immersive spoof Game of Thrones dinner, the security guard checks our bags for gold and dragon’s blood. She reminds us to be on our best behaviour as we are attending the most important function in the whole of Easteros: the wedding of King Jaffery (Laurence Pears) and Margarine of the Trywell (Charlotte Newton John). We wait by the bar admiring the themed cocktails with names such as “Milk of the Poppy” and “Margarine’s Rose” which pay homage to Game of Thrones. A nobly dressed woman swigging a goblet orders us to “move and courtesy to her”. After a bit of back forth, we realise that she is Kirsti Bannister (Janina Smith), the dowager Queen of Easteros and the mother of King Jaffery, heir to the Several Kingdoms, and that our heads may not be safe.  Across the room King Jaffery aims a cross bow at a guest’s head and orders her to place an apple on it. This is all before the wedding has even taken place and is enough to transport us from Waterloo to the treacherous spoof-laden world of Easteros, a place where you sort of recognise the characters but they’re played up for comedic effect.

The levels of achievement reached by this production are too many to name. For starters, the dinner and banqueting hall are fantastic. Stage designer, Jessica Fox and the team of Chavdar Todorov and Steven Estevez should be applauded for convincingly replicating a mediaeval feast laden with wine and meat. This set-up prompts bawdiness and conviviality from audience members who make merry with their neighbours, whilst still keeping attentive ears on the performance. The meal is expertly choreographed, with different courses punctuating key sections of the performance, it never feels like it is dragging.

The performances are excellent, inciting fierce loyalty to their assigned houses from the audience members. The actors work the crowd expertly, canvassing members for their support and engaging in witty exchanges completely in character. John’s Margarine styles herself as the people’s princess and progressive candidate; Kirsti wants your allegiance because she deserves it and  is very open about her brother Jimmy (Jake Hassam) just being the face of the campaign; Dany Tarragon (Georgia Clarke-Day) has dragons. Jons No (Pears) is a scene-stealing northern lad, denigrating the southerners of King’s Standing and spending too much time at the bar. The added incentive of a free glass of wine makes choosing the right allegiance even more crucial. The production is hilarious, playing up the ridiculousness and self-involvement of the characters and is suitable for Game of Thrones aficionados and noobs alike.

Never have I watched Game of Thrones and thought I would like to be in Westeros. However, perhaps I could survive in the laughter-filled land of Easteros created by Dinner is Coming.

Dinner is Coming is playing The Vaults until 2 June. For more information and tickets, see The Vaults website.