Some things go so beautifully together that they make you wonder why more people don't combine them more often. July, for example, sees the thrilling juxtaposition of the words "cheese" and "festival" (and the implied words "actually quite near where I live"), but I'll save that for another blog. Today I have my eye firmly on another very enticing combination of things to which I am partial - theatre and afternoon tea. Genius.
The event in question is Rocket Theatre's Wilde About Food, part of this July's Not Part Of Festival and equipped with its own irresistible strapline: "serving up classic theatre with lavish dining". The idea is as follows: choose whether you would like to be entertained over dinner or afternoon tea, book your tickets, go along to the Palace Hotel, and eat your own bodyweight whilst obliging actors perform Oscar Wilde's Lord Arthur Savile's Crime. Whilst not one of Wilde's best-known plays (you will not, for example, get to utter "a hannnnderbag" in your most distainful tones at any point during the proceedings), this is a corking play, telling the story of Lord Arthur and his trusty valet Middlewick and performed, on this occasion, as a two-man play by Martin Harris and Dan Willis.
Rather than sitting in rows and facing a conventional stage, festival-goers will sit around tables (hopefully ones with wine on them) as Lord Arthur and Middlewick roam freely; one can only hope that a bit of audience participation is not required just as one has surreptitiously popped an entire scone into one's mouth. The afternoon performances include the serving of sandwiches, scones and cakes, and the evening shows promise a three course dinner. As someone who is always caught and humiliated trying to smuggle the remnants of my gin and tonic into the second half of pretty much any performance, I can only applaud this enterprising combination of eating and culture; try not to guffaw with a mouthful of cupcake though, as I imagine that being showered with crumbs at a crucial moment is not something these brave actors would welcome.
Tickets must be booked in advance, and there are performances the first 3 weekends in July:
Saturday 9, 16 July (7.15pm) – with 3 course dinner (£33)
Sunday 3, 10 July (2.45pm) – with afternoon tea (£22)
Tickets are available from Quay Tickets: 0843 208 0500 or online at www.quaytickets.com - I suggest you book immediately as culture fixes really don't come ANY more conveniently-packaged than this.