Gingerline value the secrecy of their events, it is a sign of the quality of production that you will find very few spoilers. This was my first Gingerline event and I was impressed with the quality of food, the organisation and the performances but I am struggling to see this global culinary experience as theatrical, though it is an event with its beautiful staging and animation it won’t be something audiences forget in a hurry.
With animation, dancers and a menu to keep most happy (Gingerline work well to ensure all dietary requirements are met, as I was sat on a table with fellow “Eat anythings” I didn’t get to see the Vegan/veggie options close up) The Grand Expedition is a fun show of dancing, watching the performers (who have so much energy over the three hour show) and eating. We are explorers. I looked adorable in my aviator outfit and there are questions to be had about diversity in this production, we travel all around the world but the cast is only white or Asian?
I don’t really see how immersive dining can be much else. I had an awful experience with Divine Proportions which attempted to fit a cabaret show around drunk people eating and wanting more entertainment than on offer. Dinnerstry of Magic in December described itself as an “Immersive Muggles Ball” charging £60+ for unlimited cocktails and a two-course meal. Instead, patrons got “school/hospital dinner quality food: a chicken drumstick with undercooked carrots and a couple of undercooked potatoes with a slice of shop bought chocolate cake and tinned fruit.” and other complaints. It closed after a couple of shows but not after damage control on Facebook and other social media.
When people’s ticket prices are high (Great Expedition starts at £55) so our are expectations. Frequently high-end dining theatre seems to put characterisation in the back burner whilst audiences are expecting The Great Gatsby experience with food. On the lower end of the dining scale, The Fawlty Towers and Only Fools experiences rely on audiences being familiar with the characters, who cares if the menu consists of mushroom wellington, chicken kiev and chips?
A Game of Thrones parody to coincide with the final season, Dinner is Coming, offers a great menu and hopefully a funny story but immersive dining is not an easy genre. The Grand Expedition is more of cabaret and the Gingerline have the experience to know what works for audiences and their increasing expectations, not only of Gingerline’s next production but also for those brought in due to a love of immersive theatre and in my case lovely food.
The Grand Expedition returns in May 2019 https://www.thegrandexpedition.co.uk/tickets