With thanks to Lin Jones for the pictures
As any fan of Masterchef can tell you, unusual combinations are a risky business. Many a contestant has seen their culinary dreams crash and burn when the marriage of ingredients they thought was going to set the world of fine dining alight – fish and strawberries, goats cheese and chocolate – is rejected out-of-hand by a perplexed Gregg and John. ‘It’s an interesting idea, but it just doesn’t work’ is about as damning as it gets in Masterchef world.
Not least for the timing issues involved between chef, waiting staff and actor, integrating ‘Dinner’ and ‘Theatre’ has got to be a tricky balancing act to pull off too – the idea of staging three niblets of bite-sized drama between courses in a busy restaurant dining room is a fraught with potential pitfalls. Of course Drip Action are the crew who came up with the Arundel Theatre Trail, Boat Plays on the Arun and the Twelve Plays of Christmas; so serving up original ways to engage local audiences is bread and butter to them, but definite congratulations should go to the Swan Hotel for agreeing to host it. Catering for a full restaurant is a tricky enough business without the added pressure of ‘Waiter, there’s an actor in my soup’ to contend with.
But it’s obviously a winner. This was the first Food Festival event to sell out, with a ‘by popular demand’ second night selling out virtually instantly too. The management and staff at the Swan are obviously supportive (if the amount of furniture that’s been rearranged is anything to go by) and the audience seems more than happy to hold off on between-course chatter and cheerfully share tables with strangers to accommodate the staging. The three performances: ‘Private Encounter‘ by Bill Brennan, ‘Between Mouthfuls‘ by Alan Aykbourn and ‘Michaelangelo and The Pope‘ by John Cleese are roaringly well received, the (gorgeous looking) food arrives promptly each time the applause dies down and by the time the coffee arrives, the only question remaining is ‘why can’t this happen in Arundel all the time..?’
Drip Action’s Autumn Performance, ‘Collaboration’ by Ronald Harwood runs at the Victoria Institute, Arundel until 22nd October. For details of future productions, visit www.dripaction.co.uk
Another special Dinner Theatre performance will take place at the Swan Hotel on Saturday 3 December – for full details and to book, call 01903 882314.