The Vaults, London
Until 15th Jan 2020
“Ladies, Gentlemen and the elite that transcend the gender binary”… if there’s an experience worth having this winter, Aladdin and The Feast of Wonders is IT! It’s crude, it’s bawdy, it’s salacious – it’s completely and utterly belly-shaking hilarious. Where to start? I suppose at the beginning, we are welcomed in to Widow Hankey’s Lauderette: White Washing, where we learn that the she is struggling for cash, and also that Princess Jizzmine only has until midnight to find a suitor or risk losing the crown – the race is on! It’s got all the trimmings of a traditional panto, with a large side-helping of delicious noodles – or Mama’s Noods as they are known in these parts. Before too long we are whisked from the laundrette and on to a grand banqueting hall, where the Feast of Wonders commences. What made this immersive dining experience stand out, was that as much attention has been paid to the delightful menu, as it has to the set, as it has to the performance, offering a spectacular treat for all.
The humour is filthier than some of the laundry in Widow Hankey’s launderette – however, unlike traditional pantos, they avoid humour targeting minority groups and cis-het inuendo, which can often leave queer audiences standing on the sidelines. The Feast of Wonders is delightfully free of gender binaries and norms and heterocentric language, which for me was what made this panto one of the best in a long time. As well as this, the Vaults approach to zero-tolerance of cultural appropriation in terms of dress code feels like an incredibly hopeful and positive step forward regarding the damage and oppression pantomime in the UK has historically caused.
The talented cast are clearly having a whale of a time performing the show, which results in us having a whale of a time watching. Angelo Paragoso plays the entirely lovable Villain Jaclose, whilst Janina Smith brings cheeky, chappy Aladdin to life and succeeded in some hilarious audience banter while we partook of the feast.
The food is sumptuous, a slick operation run by Pop Co, means each course is served swiftly between scenes. Vegans – you’ll be happy the jackfruit features heavily in this feast, in fact they cater for all diets, as long as you let them know in advance! The food is themed around the story and each course brought together a blend of delicious flavours; Princess Jizzmine’s Milk was almost a little too graphic for me to stomach, but so delicious in actuality, I more than managed!
The ending of the show is unexpected, touching and a complete breath of fresh air, it’s riotous and triumphant . One slightly tipsy punter tried to incorporate herself in to the final scene, and was gently led to the side by Window Hankey – this was a sure sign of success for the production, I too thought how much I desperately wanted to be a part of the fun they were having. Fortunately for that over-zealous punter, everyone is invited on stage at the end and there is the chance for a dance, as well as to meet the characters.
I could not recommend this experience more, and with tickets costing from £40 (standard) to £75 (for VIP) it’s an absolute steal – you’d be ridiculous not to to get yourself down to the Vaults as soon as you possibly can!
© Amie Taylor