When I was chatting to MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie last week about her new theatrical dining experience, Scripts for Supper, she told me it was about “feeding people, getting them drunk and telling them a good story”. This perfectly sums up the festivities last night (and again tonight) at the London Cooking Project in Battersea, where I think it’s fair to say an excellent time was had by all – and not only because the alcohol was flowing freely throughout.
I don’t mind admitting I was a bit nervous to be turning up solo – sitting by yourself in a dark theatre is one thing, going out for dinner is quite another. But those fears didn’t last long; after a warm welcome on the door, I was handed the first of many, many drinks and adopted on to a lovely table just in time to enjoy the delicious canapes.
Now, I’m no food critic (or indeed MasterChef judge) so you’ll have to forgive my uneducated terminology and just take my word for it that the Elizabethan inspired five course feast, prepared by Annie and sous chef Alice Devine, was incredible. As someone who can be a bit of a fussy eater, I ate everything that was put in front of me and would have happily gone back for seconds of all of it. It’s hard to choose a favourite – contenders include the cheese on toast starter and the pork with mustard, leeks and caramelised shallot main course, but I think the dessert – vanilla parfait with rhubarb and rosewater jelly and Shrewsbury mille feuille – just stole the crown for me. Every course was accompanied by a fresh drink: cocktail, white wine, red wine, ale, more wine… I doubt mine was the only sore head this morning, but it was totally worth it.
And as if all this wasn’t enough, there was also theatre, as between courses the cast took off their aprons and presented scenes from Twelfth Night for our entertainment. Directed by Alex Payne, this version wisely discards the complicated Malvolio side plot (as much as I love that bit, we’d still be there now if we’d tried to get through everything) and focuses solely on the central love triangle between Viola/Cesario (Clio Davies), Orsino (Damien Hughes) and Olivia (Alice Trow), with Sebastian making a brief but necessary appearance at the end in the form of a wooden spoon. So it’s less Twelfth Night and more the edited highlights, but with enough continuity – and a bit of helpful explanation – to keep track of what’s going on. There’s also musical accompaniment throughout the evening from Edo Elia, who drifted around the room chatting to the guests while his fellow cast members were serving, looking like he was having the best time ever.
It really was a fabulous night – theatre, wine, good company and great food combining to create something pretty special. It’s also in a very unique venue; the London Cooking Project is a new private social enterprise hidden away in the middle of a housing estate in Battersea, with an open plan kitchen and dining area perfect for an intimate gathering like this one. Above all, the evening was a reminder that theatre doesn’t have to exist in its own little box, and is something that should be experienced and shared, not just seen.
Whether you’re a fan of food, drink, theatre, or all three, grab your tickets while you can for tonight – and here’s hoping there’ll be many more opportunities to check out Scripts for Supper in the future.
Scripts for Supper returns to the London Cooking Project for tonight (4th March) only.