The first thing I’m going to say regarding this fantastic experience is that you’d be a ruddy plonker to miss it. This is the latest immersive experience from Interactive Theatre International (…a boutique production and promotion company specialising in interactive, immersive and site-specific theatre at the ‘light-entertainment’ end of the theatre spectrum.) and it’s currently touring the UK with various dates in many locations. I headed down on behalf of Love Pop Ups London to spend a lovely jubbly evening with the Only Fools and Horses characters that we’ve all grown to love, and it truly was a cosmic and cushty dining experience indeed.
We attended the Cushty Dining Experience on one of the London legs of the tour, it was located at the very suave Radisson Blu Hotel near Euston. Here, one of the hotel’s meeting rooms had been transformed into Peckham – The main setting of Only Fools and Horses, complete with it’s very own Nags Head. We were ready for an evening of food and drink, wheeling and dealing.
We weren’t allowed to take any photographs during the experience but there was a photographer, but this will leave a lot more to be surprised by when you head to your very own cushty dining experience!
We arrived a few minutes before the show was to start and awaited our fate in the entrance area before we were shown to our tables. We got in the queue at the pop up gazebo bar, sadly this was moving very slowly and by the time we had got to the front we were told that the bar had closed (even though we’d been in the queue for around 7 minutes prior) and so we didn’t manage to get drinks. This was sad and led to a quite unfortunate beginning of the experience for us.
The acting was second-to-none. Beginning with the beloved Delboy trying to give the audience one of his ultimate deals (with a not-so-surprising outcome) which set the scene for the rest of the evening as he tried to undo his bad moves. Rodney appeared halfway through this and we could tell right there and then we were in for a good time. They had the characteristics down to a tee. The accents, the lingo, even the facial expressions. They had clearly done their research.
We were led into the main dining area where we were seated in large tables of 10 or so people. I was only with one friend but the people that we were on a table with were lovely and the characters helped us to all get chatting and to get to know each other more. This made the evening far more enjoyable and less awkward!
The idea of the evening was that we were participating in Rodney and Delboy’s pub quiz. With many interesting rounds and questions that each team had to answer in a bid to win points to win the quiz!
Just before the quiz got off to a flying start, we were given a tip that the upstairs bar in the hotel was still open and that we could buy a drink upstairs to bring it down. And so this is what we decided to do (we needed wine on a Friday night). However, we were not aware that the door would close and lock behind us as we left… this meant that we were stuck outside for around 15 minutes whilst hotel staff tried to find someone to let us in. Meaning that we missed the beginning of the fun. It also meant that we missed out on choosing our team name… but when we came back we found out, much to our amusement that our team name was ‘They’ve left and we have to wait until they come back’. Top team name right there.
Soon after things kicked off we were served our glorious starter. Tomato soup. Very exotic. But then again, what more could you expect from this pair of schemers. The soup was tasty, as was the bread and butter that accompanied it. But even better was the company. As I had an empty seat next to me it meant that Delboy came and joined us and tried to learn more about us. One thing that impressed me was so well he remembered everyone’s names so well! I’d never be able to do that. I’m so bad with names.
The main was equally as tropical. Chicken Kiev, Chips and Peas with a healthy heap of tomato ketchup which our whole team practically fought over to get the last drops. As far as chicken Kiev goes it was pretty gourmet, a large portion and tasted great. I’m not sure why but I was expecting the food at a dining experience to be more of an… experience? but nonetheless I still enjoyed it. This was followed by Eton Mess, but by this time I was far too full to fit any more in so I just had a small taster and it got the thumbs up from me.
The entertainment continued the whole way through the dinner, with a lot of audience interaction, I was very pleased that Marlene loved my shirt. Felt like a trendsetter. There were extra familiar characters such as Cassandra (who you could tell that Rodney was head over heels for but you can find out how when you visit), Marlene and Boyce and of course GRANDPA. It took me a little while to realise that Delboy had undergone a slight makeover but he managed to pull off both parts perfectly. Amazing how well someone is able to play two completely different characters and captivate the audience in a completely different way.
Overall, I had a really good night and would definitely recommend this experience to other people… especially if you’re a fan of the show. They also hold other events such as the Faulty Towers Dining experience which I’m also keen to try. Although I enjoyed the food I would’ve liked to see a slightly more experimental menu as for the price of a ticket I wouldnt expect to be served something that I could make at home in half an hour by just using an oven. It’d also be great if the bar stayed open during the performance as would mean that there wasn’t a long queue at half time (although we didn’t actually get any half time drinks) and would also have meant that we didn’t miss the beginning, but I can understand that they wouldn’t like to have people walking around to the bar, etc, during the immersive parts of the perfomance. The acting was fantastic and the atmosphere was great, all in all it was a cushty way to spend a Friday night.