Friday, 1 December 2017

 

The Wedding Reception at Kingsway Hall Hotel


Interactive Theatre International is the company that managed to make me an immersive theatre convert after years of dreading unexpected outbursts of audience participation in a show. Their Faulty Towers Dining Experience, transporting diners to the mayhem of Basil Fawlty's hotel through the medium of some excellent rehearsed sketches combined with improvisation on the night, was hilarious from start to finish and we loved the uniqueness of enjoying a meal while surrounded by the iconic characters. The Wedding Reception is the latest endeavour of the company and needless to say we had high expectations after our previous experience.

Kate and Will (see what they did there?) got married in a quiet ceremony and they have planned an equally understated reception, but Kate's mother has other ideas and she has organised a surprise party inviting all their friends and family... on Kate's side only.



Throughout the evening, the cast of four actors (Danielle Briers, Otis Waby, Suzanna Hughes and Ben Hood) take on a multitude of different roles with gusto, portraying the drunk friends and trying family relationships that often dominate wedding scenes. And with uninvited people showing up and unexpected romantic relationships coming to light, Kate and Will's reception is anything but quiet.

The concept of the show is certainly a fun one. Though taken to the extreme, most people undoubtedly will recognise some of the characters in the show from their own family gatherings and many of the mishaps aren't that farfetched either, though amped up for comedic purposes, of course. The actors too were good in their roles, with deadpan deliveries and unashamedly drunkenness from one particular performer who provided one of the most memorable moments on the night.

 
And yet, something was missing compared to The Faulty Towers Dining Experience. Perhaps it was the fact that this show hasn't been running as long yet (it's done the Edinburgh Fringe Festival only) and they will still develop it further and evolve it into a stronger show, and maybe it was that the concept was just a tad too realistic rather than a purely fictional experience inspired by a classic TV-show.

The audience didn't help either. The group on our table in particular treated the evening as a stag night, being already visibly sloshed before the show had even started and making crude comments throughout while throwing food at the performers. They gave the vibe of that drunken uncle who shows up uninvited at the wedding just a little too much, and that's not the kind of atmosphere a theatre performance should evoke – immersive or not.



I do think this show can grow to become a stronger piece over time as there were some great comedic ideas in the mix. A better audience will certainly help with this and it'd be interest to see how it will develop in future performances in London and on tour. But The Faulty Towers Dining Experience it is not, which was a hoot from start to finish – even when one of the actors 'stole' my cutlery so I wasn't able to eat for quite a while.

Speaking of food, part of the joy of these experiences is that not only you get to see a theatre performances, but you get a sit-down meal as well. However, this too felt like it could do with some sprucing up. The chicken main was similar to that of the other show, but neither the starter or dessert were that great. It all felt like it could use some rethinking and fine-tuning. I mean, at a wedding at the very least you expect to finish with a dazzling wedding cake, but the meal wasn't a typical one for the setting and just felt a tad simplistic.



The Wedding Reception has an excellent concept and I admire Interactive Theatre International for their innovative approach to these shows. While I would 100% recommend The Faulty Towers Dining Experience over this one, it did have some funny (and very memorable!) moments that if developed further could definitely make for a great night out. And while after a normal wedding you'd have to face your friends and family again after having sobered up but still remembering all the embarrassing moments, for this one you can enjoy the hysterical situations to their fullest as you'll never have to see these people ever again. 😉



The Wedding Reception is playing at Kingsway Hall Hotel next on 16 December, before going on a UK wide tour. Book your tickets here.



🎵 Listening to: My Chemical Romance – Na Na Na
🔹 Mood: Rushed




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