As we came in, the king was posing for photos. Rebecca and Katy got stuck in.


The hoop acrobat was demonstrating almost preternatural core strength with ease and a smile on her face. By the bar, an acrobalancer casually juggled 4 clubs flawlessly. The dark lady and the maiden worked the room. The dark lady sat beside strangers, silent, terrifying sad and preoccupied in her mask. The maiden jolted shocks of acerbic wit as she observed the proceedings.

Someone has decided to justify dressing the table waiters in extremely high corsets. I have no idea how they avoid wardrobe malfunctions. I suspect they don’t. I admire their resilience. The tops of their boobs are spilling out like expanding foam through a cheese grater.

They are given a brief in which they encourage the diners to shout “wench” at them. In an office somewhere some years ago a slightly awkward man drenched in sweat most likely argued “Well it’s fun. And period appropriate.” Yeah but screw that. I won’t shout “wench” any more than I’ll shout “garçon”. Both behaviours are tantamount to shouting “I’m an asshole!” I had to make do with no service until I found out her name.

I’ve been at a medieval banquet by the way, not a standard dinner party in Chelsea. Even if I can see how you made that mistake. It’s part of the promo for Knights of the Rose, which is the new rock musical launching at The Arts Theatre very soon. Don’t get confused, I’m writing about the banquet not the show. They are very separate entities.

We got an early preview from the cast of Knights of the Rose, in the banquet hall. (More railway arches) They are astoundingly talented and one of them is married to a friend of mine. They were singing some of their numbers in amongst the tables, to an invited crowd of journalists, producers and muggins here in one of his new suits after an audition. This is gonna be a good show, Knights of the Rose at The Arts Theatre go see go see etc. It was probably lovely for all the actors as well, who in exchange for a couple of songs got a free medieval banquet.

I’m not so sold on the banquet though. Sure, they feed you. But the food is secondary to the atmosphere and it’s not the priority. They’ve done some clever stuff. You get all your plates laid out before you arrive – in a pile so they jiggle when you punch the table. They get you to punch the table to applaud, thus rattling them. “Yes it’s labour saving, but it makes a good effect.” Genius. God it cuts down on laying. Similarly you drink your soup out of the bowl. It saves on washing and polishing but it’s medieval.

Really you’d do just as well with a packed lunch when faced with these performers. The centrepiece of the evening is their work, which is rotating street-theatre style and they’re used to being underappreciated or just plain ignored.

The acrobats and singers and musicians are on point. They’re working hard and they’ve worked hard for years to get to this level of effortless effort. I didn’t dare ask what they’re being paid. “This is a licence to print money,” says the guy to my left. “Not if you’re paying these guys what they’re worth,” I respond, and he rolls his eyes and laughs the laugh that says “We both know that ain’t happening.”

But a lovely night for me, and good to be on the receiving end of a dining experience for a change.



Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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