Writers: Davy Berryman and Lauren Partridge
Reviewer: Ava Eldred
Famed for their innovative immersive dining experiences, all taking place in the vicinity of stations on London’s Overground line, Gingerline’s latest instalment, Chambers, is a veritable feast for the senses, and certainly not for the passive experience seeker.
The first rule of Gingerline is that participants must not reveal anything about the concept, which begins with a text message revealing the location only hours before the performance begins. Specifics may not be discussed, but the audience are immersed from the moment they arrive at the venue, with the plentiful food and drink on offer being introduced almost immediately. The over-arching theme of the evening is multi-dimensional dining, and over the course of 120 minutes, participants are served treat after treat as they travel through each space, never quite sure what surprises will come next.
Within a group that included numerous varying dietary requirements, the way in which these were dealt with before anything else was consistently impressive, and curbed any anxieties about accidentally consuming something dangerous without affecting the overall experience at all. The cuisine on offer, designed and produced by Jenny McNeill and Flavourology, is imaginative, perfectly matched to the environment, and above all else delicious, and the food service throughout is completely seamless. While there may be an expectation with theatrical dining events that the audience will leave hungry, that is certainly not the case here. Picky eaters may struggle, but the brave will leave sated by the six courses on offer.
Much of Gingerline’s success comes from it’s impeccably themed worlds, combining a fun if ever so slightly predictable story written by Davy Berryman and Lauren Partridge with set and production design by Stripeland that lends itself perfectly to the whimsical spirit of the evening. The performers encountered during the two-hour experience are kept on their toes by the very nature of their roles, but all deal excellently with the pressures of an ever-moving production, and keep the audience moving through well without it ever feeling as though they are being rushed. The willingness of the audience to get involved is integral to the experience, and each performer manages this need well without making the audience uncomfortable. Chambersin part feels like a team bonding exercise, and the actors subtly but effectively reinforce the need to work together in a way that leaves the group feeling more like friends than strangers by the time they are returned to reality.
A must-experience adventure for the brave of heart, Chambers is event theatre which never feels gimmicky. An excellent evening out.
Runs until 28 September 2019 | Image: Contributed