Review: Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders at The Vaults
The rapid rise of immersive experiences in London is truly impressive. The Vaults in Waterloo adds the exceedingly British tradition of pantomime to the immersive mix this Christmas, with Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders. We sent Neil Simpson to check it out.
I think the reason immersive experiences have become popular in London is because you get food, drinks, entertainment and the chance to make new friends, all in one place. They can be great value for money and offer something new and exciting, which certainly applies to Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders (to 15 Jan 2020).
The show takes place in The Vaults, a hidden entertainment venue beneath the railway arches of Waterloo Station. It’s based on Aladdin obviously, but it’s the classic British pantomime version of Aladdin, which includes different elements. For example, an extra character called Widow Twankey who is traditionally played by a man dressed as a woman. I have no idea why, but it is fun.
Gender-bending is everywhere in this show: Aladdin’s played by a woman dressed as a man; Widow Twankey is a man dressed as a woman; Jafar is played by a drag queen claiming to be a man, who eventually accepts himself as a lingerie-wearing bundle of fabulousness. The story follows these characters and Princess Jasmine (called Jizzmeen here) as they, well… the story is pretty ridiculous and it really doesn’t matter if you follow it or not.
The main thing is that Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders is a lot of fun. There’s plenty of audience participation, especially as the actors worked hard to engage everybody during dining breaks. Nothing is serious and the overall message is to joyfully accept yourself and others.
Sometimes with immersive experiences that include dining, the food is thought about too much. It’s style over substance, but not here. It’s not ground-breaking or over-the-top, but satisfying and tasty. Dinner is served feast-style at communal tables, which works as an effective conversation starter with your fellow guests. The spread includes steaming vessels of beef tagine (there’s a great jackfruit variation too), spiced rice and a delicious pineapple and mint salsa. I thought it was clever that the menu works for vegans, but meat-eaters are still catered for with that beef tagine.
Is it worth the money?
I should add that drinks are not included with standard tickets and a lot of the jokes are sex-related – so maybe don’t bring your grandma. These points considered though, Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders is still one of the most entertaining immersive experiences I’ve been to in London.
Aladdin and the Feast of Wonders runs to 15 Jan 2020
The Vaults Theatre Entrance, Launcelot St, SE1 7AD
Early bookings for selected shows £35; Standard £40-£55;
Drinks package £60-£75; New Year’s Eve £100
Speaking of brilliant immersive experiences, check out our video review of Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience here.
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