The latest project from Gingerline, creators of inventive immersive dining experiences, is billed as a “multi-dimensional” adventure. What this means in practice is that instead of taking place in one large dining space, it takes place in a number of smaller, differently designed rooms.
However, in choosing to foreground the immersive elements, the dining part ends up feeling like an afterthought. While the design of each room is striking, none of the spaces is conducive to the act of eating, which is quite a significant issue when there are five courses to get through over the evening.
The audience is obliged to consume much of the food while standing or squatting and, if you’re not the speediest of eaters, you might find yourself watching mournfully as a substantial chunk of your dinner is whisked away before you’re finished.
The fact that the food is tasty and a considerable level of thought has been given to the vegetarian and vegan options makes this even more galling. Drinks have to be carried around from room to room in little bags, with the potential for spillage high, particularly as there is some clambering and crawling involved.
While the performers are committed and some of the costumes impressive, the interactive bits feel like low-budget Punchdrunk crossed with an unchallenging escape room. There’s not much in the way of a narrative through-line either, other than giving its audience a renewed appreciation for the simple pleasures of eating at a table without having to worry about wine splashing on your shoes.
In previous Gingerline shows, the food was the star of the show, but in ramping up the interactive elements, the company has unintentionally created its own immersive version of The Hunger Games or, more accurately perhaps, The Hangry Games.