Tag Archives: Annie McKenzie

Red Palace


The Vaults

Red Palace

Red Palace

The Vaults

Reviewed – 2nd October 2019



“All the necessary components are there … I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation”


Shotgun Carousel’s reputation for outlandish and stunningly executed immersive events far precedes their current show, Red Palace. After last year’s outrageously decadent Divine Proportions, I was fully prepared for an evening of hedonistic debauchery, expertly implemented to lavish excess.

he concept (Laura Drake Chambers) is strong from the start, and all-encompassing: There is a prophesy known across the land that after a thousand days on the throne, the tyrant prince will come to a bloody end. But the prince has no intention of giving up his rule and instead he’s throwing a party on the very day this prophecy should come to pass. Dress code is “your best ball attire and a mask to match” ( don’t worry, you can borrow a mask at the box office). It really is very effective to walk in to a dimly lit room full of masked faces, even if you know most of those are your fellow audience members.

For those who decide to indulge, dinner is served before the main event in a gallery overlooking the hoi polloi. MasterChef semi-finalist Annie McKenzie has whipped up a true feast – I’ll be thinking about that sticky honey soda bread with whipped rosemary butter for days to come, and I only wish I’d snuck in some tupperware for a little more of that rich, crispy shallot tarte tatin.

Performances are promised throughout dinner, but instead we’re occasionally introduced to a character from the main show’s narrative who we’ll no doubt encounter again later in the evening. This is a little disappointing: A performance suggests something of a spectacle and instead we have a preview of a show we’re already signed up to see. The cast themselves are magnificently adorned (Maeve Black) in gothic glamour, and they each play their parts with impressive commitment, even when hassled by substandard audience banter.

The show itself, directed by Celine Lowenthal, takes over the majority of The Vaults, sending the audience sprawling across various nooks and crannies throughout the venue. Initially there’s a sense that we might wander casually from room to room, making discoveries for ourselves, but after the first, we’re shepherded from one spot to the other to observe various necessary parts of the evening’s main plot.

The aesthetics don’t disappoint. Every space has been lovingly crafted to create vastly different atmospheres in each: Snow (White), styled as Barbie Madonna, is throwing a very sad birthday party in her sickly pink boudoir; Gretel (of the famous brother and sister duo) hosts an illegal cabaret with bathtub gin to boot; Red (Riding Hood) hides in the dark, dank forest, plotting her revenge against the prince. But concepts aren’t quite taken to their fabulous potential so within reach. Instead there’s a slight amateur fiddliness to it all, causing a lag between the evening’s tent-pole performances, and slightly sapping the fun out of it as the audience shuffles from one room to the next.

All the necessary components are there: stunning designs, exquisite food, engrossing performances and a well thought out concept. I could just do with a little more amazement and a little less explanation. No need to continuously force feed us the plot, we just want to have a radically decadent unicorn of an evening. Whilst for most that would be too much to ask, it’s what we’ve come to expect from Shotgun Carousel, and on this occasion they’ve just missed the mark.


Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

Photography by Nic Kane


Red Palace

The Vaults until 12th January 2020


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Donal The Numb | ★★★★ | March 2019
Essex Girl | ★★★★ | March 2019
Feed | ★★★★ | March 2019
How Eva Von Schnippisch Won WWII | ★★★★ | March 2019
The Talented Mr Ripley | ★★★★ | March 2019
Vulvarine | ★★★★★ | March 2019
Bare: A Pop Opera | ★★★ | June 2019
Black Is The Color Of My Voice | ★★★★ | June 2019
Me and my Whale | ★★★ | June 2019
The Falcon’s Malteser | ★★★★★ | July 2019


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Scripts for Supper: The Wind in the Willows

Stepney City Farm

Scripts for Supper: The Wind in the Willows

Stepney City Farm

Reviewed – 17th May 2019



“this is an entertaining evening that puts a smile on your face and fantastic food in your belly”


Communal dining on an inner-city farm and Kenneth Grahame’s classic ‘The Wind in the Willows’ performed by dim-witted (but very sincere) ‘farmhands’ might just be the perfect marriage of experiences. As my first time tucking into the world of theatrical dining, I certainly experienced the “pleasures of a well-loaded table” – and enjoyed a witty, delightfully whimsical take on ‘The Wind in the Willows’ story along the way.

Juanita Hennessey (of BBC’s ‘Masterchef’ fame) cooks up five courses of wonderful woodland dishes served outdoors on grass and flower filled tables. Being a solo reviewer meant conversation with my neighbours was essential, and the arrangement makes for a shared outdoor dining experience Brian Jacques would probably be jealous of. The story, expertly narrated by Elizabeth Schenck, is well-known, but follows Mole (Coco Maertens) Rat (Paul Brayward), Badger (Matthew Emery), and Toad (Siân Alex Keen) whose obsession with motorcars leads to a hefty prison sentence and the loss of Toad Hall to a gang of weasels and stoats. Armed to the teeth, the gang have to band together to win back Toad Hall.

Decked out in boater hats and the sort of outfits you would expect in a very, very English countryside, the cast are bundle of laughs. Simply staged, they sing, play and dance their way through the show, with some memorable folk/rock and roll inspired songs keeping the tempo (and our spirits) up along the way. The concept of these being farmhands putting on a show places the production somewhere between ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’ and a country wedding, with some inventive use of kitchen utensils and farmyard debris.

Although I’m no food connoisseur, the dining was well-paced and the transition from scenes to stuffing your face was executed nicely. I had Hennessey’s ‘omnivore menu’, which was utterly delicious. Considering the story ends with an (imaginary) banquet, how I wish the cast had sat down with the audience to tuck into desert together at the end!

All in all though, this is an entertaining evening that puts a smile on your face and fantastic food in your belly. Go with friends, go alone: either way, you’ll have a ball.


Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich

Photography by Aslam Husain (rehearsal image) and Matthew Hennessey (food image)


Scripts for Supper

Scripts for Supper: The Wind in the Willows

Stepney City Farm until 19th May followed by dates at Spitalfields City Farm and Mudchute City Farm


Last ten shows covered by this reviewer:
Boots | ★★★★ | The Bunker | February 2019
Gently Down The Stream | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | February 2019
Inspirit | ★★★★ | Vaulty Towers | February 2019
10 | ★★★★ | The Vaults | March 2019
The Thread | ★★½ | Sadler’s Wells Theatre | March 2019
Yamato – Passion | ★★★★★ | Peacock Theatre | March 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough | ★★½ | Park Theatre | April 2019
Little Miss Sunshine | ★★★★★ | Arcola Theatre | April 2019
Man Of La Mancha | ★★★★ | London Coliseum | April 2019
Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare: The Taming Of The Shrew | ★★★★★ | Leicester Square Theatre | April 2019


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com