A few weeks ago, I was at The Vaults attending Red Palace, a uniquely immersive dining and theatre experience, organised via Love Pop Ups London.
The Vaults is a series of disused railway arches near London Waterloo Station that have been creatively transformed for immersive theatre, performances and the arts. It is located near the famous Leake Street graffiti tunnel, which is an ever-evolving public art space and gallery.
We were attending The Vaults latest show, The Red Palace, which is an immersive adult fairy tale and masquerade ball that combines cabaret, circus acts, burlesque, dance and genre-defying performances. It is produced by Shotgun Carousel – a London-based, female-led production and performance company.
The venue is quite dark and dimly lit, with a central gallery surrounded by the arches.
Prior to the show, we were led to the VIP Dining space on the mezzanine level, overlooking the main performance gallery. It was set out banquet-style with its own bar.
Being a masquerade ball, we were asked to bring masks or you could buy some fancy ones at the door. Donning our masks, we sat down with our fellow guests to enjoy a sumptuous three course dinner, designed by Masterchef semi-finalist and Artistic Director of Scripts for Supper Annie McKenzie.
On the menu were the following dishes to be shared at the communal table:
Homemade Honey Irish Soda Bread, Whipped Rosemary Butter, Sea Salt Crystals, Balsamic Vinegar, Olive Oil
The First Dance
Spiced Lentil and Roasted Beetroot Salad with Pickled Shallots
Rosemary and Garlic Baked Camembert with Cornichons
The Main Event
Slow-cooked, Rolled Cumin and Coriander Spiced Breast of Lamb with a Pomegranate Glaze, Coconut Yoghurt and Fresh Pomegranate
Shallot Tarte-tatin with Basil
Butternut Squash, Leek, Buckwheat and Basil Bake
On The Side
Roasted Baby Potatoes
Red and White Cabbage, Fennel and Celeriac Slaw with Pomegranate
Salted Caramel Toffee Apples with Coconut, Cocoa Nibs and Popping Candy
All the food was delicious but the highlight was definitely the lamb. It was absolutely soft and melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous. However, I did feel the vegetarian options were a bit lacking in excitement compared to the meat dishes. Initially, I wasn’t too sure about the dessert either but it was strangely addictive and an interesting taste sensation to chomp on fresh juicy apples with bursts of popping candy and sweet, milky coconut.
After dinner, we were led downstairs for the main show.
We were then split into groups to explore the different rooms under the arches, each designed with its own theme related to the storyline.
Each room was dedicated to a fairy tale character, but not the sweet and innocent versions we know from our childhood fables but much more glamorous, dangerous and dark. Navigating the various rooms, you do feel transported to a magical world of mystery, intrigue and escapism.
I have now attended quite a few immersive dining experiences in London including Journey to the Underworld, Banquet of Hoshena, and The Murdér Express. Red Palace was definitely up there with the best as a very enjoyable and impressive example of immersive theatre and dining experience in London. They have plenty of other shows running as The Vaults is a vast performance space, so do keep an eye on their website for some of their other quirky performances.
For Red Palace, you can get tickets for performances only (starting from £18), as well as the Dinner + Show packages starting at £45.
Performance Dates: Tuesday 24th September 2019 – Sunday 12th January 2020
Location: The Vaults, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN.
N.B. I was invited to review and my tickets were complimentary.