Chambers_, secret location, London

Food, wine and theatre are the perfect ingredients for an evening of immersive delights 

What better way to spend a searing hot day in July than in a bunker in the depths of east London? Hidden away under London’s steaming concrete, far from the record-breaking heat, the hottest ticket in town is Chambers_ – a collaboration between Gingerline and Flavourology – part theatre part culinary experience that ticks all your sensory boxes.

Described as a “palette twisting, interactive, multi-dimensional dining adventure”, Chambers_ is super sharp and wildly imaginative, the loose narrative arc no barrier to an evening of food, fun and flights of fancy. 

What happens in this underground world is shrouded in mystery – those who’ve passed through the multi-verse are sworn to secrecy, but it’s breaking no promises to say that Chambers_ is a tight, well-directed and acted romp with none of the hysterical improv that can tip an immersive experience into a toe-curling experience. 

There’s no real plot but you don’t really notice as you move through a series of set pieces each with its own cast of characters – and roles for the audience. In each room you get to tuck into one of the five dishes that you’re given along your journey, fusing the theme of the performance with appropriate food. 

The food is good… The programme warns it’s not Michelin star but the meals are tasty and flavourful (there’s a reason I’m not a food critic). I’m a vegetarian but my meat-eating plus one enjoyed her carnivorousness treats just as much. 

While the fusion of food, art and performance is the draw, the real star of the show are the sets. Wonderfully imaginative and brilliantly realised, they bring to life these other worlds and play a large part in taking your brains – and your tastebuds – to another dimension.

Chambers_ | Secret location | Until 28 September 2019

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Savill Garden, Windsor

A Midsummer Night's Dream' at The Savill Garden

A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ at The Savill Garden

A jug of Pimms and the waft of char-grilled sausages aside, I can’t think of many things that sum up an English summer more than Shakespeare performed outside in a royal park in the plush Surrey countryside on a warm evening.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with its fantastical plot featuring fairies, star-crossed lovers, potions and an ass’s head, lends itself to an outdoor immersive production in a setting as delightful as the Savill Garden in the Windsor Great Park, where not even the booming jets from near-by Heathrow could spoil the bucolic mood.

Watch Your Head’s ambitious production of Shakespeare’s comedy literally covers a lot of ground – some new some a little more well-trodden – as we follow Bottom, Puck and Oberon through the gardens, moving further into the woods with each scene.

The Savill Garden is an impressive stage and the production is vivacious and hugely fun. The cast, many of who play dual roles (on and off-stage), are largely impressive. Joss Wyre is an engaging Puck capturing the merriment of the evening with her mischievousness not to mention some pretty fantastic acrobatics. She’s as light on her feet as a fairy as she leads us through the gardens that become increasingly magical as dusk descends. Olly Lavery as Bottom is also having a great time, with a performance that draws out the comedy of the weaver’s pomposity.

The costumes, by Shabnam Spiers, are sumptuous and reflect the pastoral setting – from Oberon’s cloak adorned with peacock feathers to the Athenians’ Lysander and Demetrius 1930’s Wimbledon inspired boaters-and-blazers outfits.

The production is as enchanting as the spells cast by the fairies and a wonderful way to spend a summer’s evening.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream  | The Savill Garden | Until 19 July 2015

by Suzanne Elliott