Behind Waterloo station, there’s a set of steps down to Leake Street: a subterranean tunnel spray-painted all the colours of the rainbow. It’s quite a sight and a fitting home for London’s coolest underground venue, The Vaults, which is currently hosting an adults-only Roald Dahl-inspired “immersive dining experience”.
Yes, that’s quite a mouthful and so is Dinner at the Twits. It’s the typically bonkers idea of Les Enfants Terribles, the group behind last year’s sellout hit Alice’s Adventures Underground, which was also in The Vaults and is returning for another run next April. With tickets starting at £70, this is more than twice the price because it includes a fittingly gruesome dinner and drinks.
Chris Barlow and Lizzy Dive as Mr and Mrs Twit (photos: Rah Petherbridge)
The first act is in the Twits’ brilliantly sinister garden, which is worthy of a Tim Burton film. Guests are handed a glowing nettle and thistle-adorned “sting and tonic” (my mum did actually manage to sting her nose) and invited to forage in birdboxes and wheelbarrows for “awful aperitifs”.
This isn’t a dining experience likely to be enjoyed by the fussy or overly fastidious. Fortunately, we Webbs are neither, so got stuck into the Mouldy Delight and Writhing Spaghetti. My favourite hors d’oeuvre was the crispy Sky Rodent Goujons (chicken, I hoped), but I’d rather eat real Bloodied Hearts than stomach theirs again (stone-cold chicken liver basted in a Bloody Mary).
James Keningale as Booble in Dinner at the Twits
But on with the show: when Mr and Mrs Twit finally made an entrance, they turned out to be as fabulously grotesque as the menu. Their monkey-servants were even more disturbing. Dinner at the Twits definitely reminds you how dark Roald Dahl’s tales are (it’s worth re-reading the book if it’s been a while).
The rest of the 90-minute show/dinner took place in the Twits’ dining room and was pure pantomime. The melodramatic acting won’t be too everybody’s taste, but most of my table were giggling and shrieking like primary schoolchildren, myself included.
Mr Twit’s bird pie
Eating bird pie (surprisingly tasty once I’d got over the chicken foot sticking out of it) while my stomach churned at the Twits’ revolting antics wasn’t exactly enjoyable, but hopefully did wonders for my metabolism. When it was all over, we were shown through to a cocktail bar with more superbly surreal décor and stiff drinks. I was definitely in need of one.
Dinner at the Twits is at The Vaults until 30 October