Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, Game Of Thrones was more than just a ratings juggernaut. Even as the quality became more erratic from about the 5th season onwards, the show’s [official Nielsen rated] viewership continued to grow in a manner more reminiscent of bubonic plague than word of mouth. Even though it held the dubious crown of most pirated piece of entertainment on the net for multiple years running it still managed the kind of ‘official’ numbers that any producer would sacrifice their first-born for. It was a genuine cultural phenomenon as much as a show, something that has become increasingly rare due to the atomisation of viewing habits by the internet. Whilst shows like Killing Eve or Fleabag might gain ecstatic toeholds amongst certain circles of the cognoscenti, Game Of Thrones spanned the globe. To not watch it was practically a hipster brag, almost in the vein of ‘I don’t even own a television’ and now it’s all over.
It ended in fire and recrimination [and that’s just the fans] and a strange cultural space left in the wake feels more like a missing tooth than closure. As a result Dinner Is Coming, an immersive dining experience which takes place in the suitably castle-like tunnels under Waterloo station, is a welcome palate cleanser. As a result of the near total familiarities of the cast and the setting, Dinner is Coming is able to riff wildly on the characters whilst assuming a near total audience level of audience understanding. The setting is the wedding of the…mercurial King Jaffery Bear-a-thon [nee Joffery Baratheon] an event that show viewers will probably remember does not go off without a hitch. After some literal table setting, the audience is ushered into dinner with the brief of picking the new Queen or King, your allegiance demonstrated by coloured wrist bands. The actors circulate between the tables wheedling and cajoling you onto their side.
What really ties it all together is that the performance is funny in a very silly way, from modern day references to off the cuff tirades at the audience, this tramples all over the golden cow of Game Of Thrones with deep affection and the laughs help draw a line under the end of its cultural reign in a way that angry petitions to reshoot Season 8 do not [to say the least]. The issue is that this is definitely an event to be undertaken under the influence and drinks are not included and pretty pricey. I did not find it endearing when I spent 4.50 for what I assumed was a pint of something called ‘Crimson Meridian’ only to discover it was a can of Red Stripe. The food is pleasant enough with a selection of vaguely medieval courses in chicken, pea soup and pears but really the 49 pound entry fee is being spent on the comedy. Whilst there was a woman sitting next to me who mystifyingly had never seen an episode but decided to pop on down anyway [she seemed to enjoy herself despite her total confusion] this is definitely one for the fans. Endearing, amusing blossoming into side-splitting as the cans of Crimson Meridian pile up. As a final farewell to Game Of Thrones there are worse ways to celebrate how our watch is, alas, ended.
Until 14th July 2019
Tickets available at: https://www.thevaults.london/dinner-is-coming