Review: The Grand Expedition – Dalston’s Film Shed

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The Grand Expedition: The Incredible Edible Journey

Gingerline returns to London for their latest immersive dining extravaganza, The Grand Expedition: The Incredible Edible Journey that promises a “culinary journey around the world”. The show aims to captivate audiences through multimedia, live performance and gastronomical delight, as each audience member is seated inside a large wooden air balloon, yet does the experience truly take flight?

The highlight of the transformative and immersive experience comes from the simplistic yet charming animation and sound design by Greenaway. A projection screen spanning the circumference of Dalston’s Film Shed displays the gorgeous, fairy book-style illustrations of Fred Campbell. There’s a palpable sense of excitement when “touching down” in each new location, without giving too many spoilers (as the element of surprise is a true treat), five unique locations are discovered with delectable food pairings, the most transformative being crossing the continents to Asia twice. It would be interesting to see more of Campbell’s work enlivening the room as the short animation is played on a loop for around twenty minutes which somewhat shatters the illusion, reminding us that we are ultimately in a Warehouse in East London.

Entertaining audiences throughout the evening are the ever-dynamic ensemble of performers exuberantly executing the flawless, playful and imaginative choreography of Hallgrim Hansegård. However, the performance really does seem to happen in the background.

Guests are primarily interested in the delightful menu, created by Gingerline’s Executive Chef, Jenny McNeill. The menu’s flavours are fresh, punchy and really do transport audiences. Even the temperature of each dish in each location is paid special attention to and creates a sensational (literally) atmosphere and environment.

The puncture in the night is the hot air balloon seating arrangement itself. From some seats you can find yourself sort of facing the back of the warehouse, breaking that sense of being immersed as you need to crane your neck at times or turn away from your food to watch the performers or see the animation. However, the main issue is sitting with up to seven, well, strangers in an eight-person balloon and a lot of the food consists of sharing dishes. The unusual seating plan clashes with the pretty high-priced evening, with the sense of indulgence being mellowed with the hums of “oh have I taken too much bread” or the anxious internal whisper of “did I take too little slaw”. The sharing of tables and food, whilst a cute idea, doesn’t quite work with everyone’s experience. People come to The Grand Expedition for different experiences, some are couples, some families, some drinkers some very much not so. While it’s an admirable concept to bring everyone together it is a slightly dreamy idea that this type of dining would suit everyone and creates the need to censor oneself a little to suit the “balloon” you’re placed in.

Gingerline’s, The Grand Expedition is an enchanting and at times genuinely exciting experience with great potential and delicious moments, however a few revisions would make this into a truly incredible edible journey.

****

By Nancy Brie

The Grand Expedition- The Incredible Edible Journey will be playing at Dalston’s

Film Shed until May 2024.

Tickets can be found here

link

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