I am a big fan of this sort of dinner theatre entertainment; I enjoy supper being an “event” and have attended many such evenings, from an adaption of “Beauty and the Beast” complete with bacchanalian style revelling to one of the award winning Gingerline’s events where you feel like you are on a TV show in a tasting competition one minute, to bathing with a mermaid in a ball pool eating seafood the next!
“Scripts for Supper” are a relatively new kid on the block, launching barely two years ago but their adaption almost hits the spot and with a few tweaks their evenings could rival the best.
The interactive and immersive dinner theatre show, seeks to bring to life (over dinner) the tale and characters of that well loved children’s story “The Wind in the Willows” in a beautifully rustic farm setting, with shabby chic tables covered in flowers and fake grass as we sit under a canopy in a city farmyard. The show is now touring to what will be I’m sure two just as beautifully realised farm settings.
The food was really delicious. Conceived and cooked by television Masterchef finalist Juanita Hennessey, it is effectively (and extreme tastily) inspired by the literature and is really cleverly brought to accompany the preceding scene from the actors, as they work their way through the novel.
The actors were energetic and talented; minor niggles I had with the casting ( I would rather have seen traditional casting I think with male actors for Toad and Mole; purely because the book is so well known) were put out of my head as the talented troupe brought the story of Toad and his (her) madcap foibles with a motorcar and his (her) riverside friends to life, with both scenes and extremely tuneful and well sung songs.
I particularly enjoyed the musical talent of Matthew Emeny, with his well crooned songs as he played his guitar – also playing both badger and the judge in what was my favourite scene of the piece.
Paul Brayward as Ratty and Coco Martaens as Mole, principle protagonists of this musical play, gave impressive and warm performances with a charming (though unexpected) love story. Sian Keen as Toad, and Elizabeth Shenck as the narrator both perform their roles with aplomb and energy, doing their best to tell the tale with well designed but minimal props and costume.
While all the cast were extremely watchable, I felt the scenes were far too long, leading to a long delay between courses (as the actors fulfilled the roles of waiters too). Having seen an impressive dinner theatre version of “Around the World in Eighty Days” last year, with an evening entirely themed and food wise inspired by the novel but with only a select few passages from the book performed, letting the menu and setting do the talking, I can say that I feel the scenes here could do with some selective editing, and some of the more choreographed moments too were far too long.
Either that, or the food should be served while the scene is carrying on-perhaps incorporated in some way (as I felt the audience grew restless at times).
Overall however, this was an innovative and well conceived way to enjoy an adaption of a children’s classic, with talented performers, an unusual and delightful setting and delicious food. Surreal but fun. Recommended.
Reviewed by Nicole Faraday
FOLLOW WEST END WILMA