Ticket Price: £45
Address: Station Rd, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS0 7RA
We recently made another trip across to Southend to check out Hide and Shriek’s latest event, Delectably Dead. This one had us intrigued – it wasn’t a haunt or an escape room but a zombie-themed dinner show, something that we haven’t encountered before!
The story was that, in a post-apocalyptic world, we had been invited into a safe zone by one of its inhabitants for a meal. This didn’t go down too well with the apparent leader of the group who was concerned about infection and the obvious strain on resources. From there, a number of incidents occurred, causing the stability of the group to slowly erode as the odds stacked against them (and us by proxy).
The show was broken up by intervals where the perfectly themed food was served! The menu was inspired by food that might actually survive the apocalypse but given a more palatable spin and, for the most part, was pretty tasty with only our main course of salted beef hash being a bit disappointing (the beef was too dry for our liking).
The concept was great and they augmented this well with the use of video. An effort had gone into theming the area although it felt a bit too well-kept. We’ve learned with Hide and Shriek to pay attention to the little details, of which there was an abundance of here!
The cast were great and really seemed to inhabit their roles. At one point, two of the actors were stood behind us, having a full-blown conversation about their current predicament, in character. This wouldn’t seem out of place except that they weren’t addressing anyone in the audience! We admit to eavesdropping here as it was fascinating to hear them engage each other privately as though they actually were their characters. We firmly believe that it’s the tiniest details that end up making the biggest impact and this was definitely one of those details!
There was one moment during the show that demonstrated the real potential of Delectably Dead. A character had just arrived at the safe zone looking for food and water and their fate was seemingly left to the audience. This was quite a scary scene given how so many people were calling for their death with morbid glee! Being a scripted show, their fate had been decided way before we ever sat down but the organisers could have been onto something with that scene. We would have liked an actual vote to take place, with the characters visiting each table with a makeshift ballot and tallying the results live. It would have been an interesting moment to genuinely put the life of one of the characters in the hands of the audience and to then see how they dealt with the repercussions of that decision. Moments where the audience were involved in more meaningful ways such as this would have gone a long way to aiding the immersion. As it stood, participation was strictly of the ‘hold this, stand here’ variety.
And to go into a bit more detail, the presentation of the food was brilliant and a lot of thought and care had clearly gone into it. Served in mess tins and cans, it had a real war-time feel to it. The labelling was themed and entertaining in a way that’s becoming a trademark of Hide and Shriek. And the little ice-cream in-joke didn’t go unnoticed!
There were a few things that could have been tweaked to improve the experience. Firstly, none of the actors wore mics. We’re not sure if this was an aesthetic decision or if the room didn’t seem so big so as to require it. Either way, we couldn’t hear a good chunk of what was being said throughout the evening. The actors made a real effort to project and move around the room as much as was natural but it didn’t do much to help. A problem that was compounded by tables around us being quite boisterous. We didn’t have a problem with that as a show like this demands that you participate and immerse yourself to get the most out of it, it just would have been nice if the show ensured that the actors could be heard over the expected general chit chat.
As well as sound, sight was also an issue. Apparently throughout the course of the show, people got shot, beaten and had impromptu surgery performed on them – not that we would have ever known! We sympathise with the organisers somewhat on this one, they can only use the space that they have available to them but we wonder if better solutions were possible. It would have been nice if the stage was in the middle of the room and the tables encircled it. As it stood, there were some seats that were obviously way better than others. It’s a perfect example of the material being fine but the logistics letting it down. Would we have had a much better experience had we been seated in a more central position? Absolutely.
Another logistical issue was that the timing of the food with the show created some awkward transitions including a long stretch towards the end where absolutely nothing was happening either on the stage or with the food. Again, it’s one of those things where we can see that trying to sync up a kitchen with a scripted performance is undoubtedly going to cause headaches but it felt as though something should have been prepared to paper over any cracks that inevitably appeared. The actors helped alleviate this somewhat by passing from table to table but it was clear that there wasn’t much they had to go on if the tables were unresponsive.
Delectably Dead - Hide and Shriek
Delectably Dead was enjoyable enough but had some serious flaws. We believe you could still have a fun night attending but be aware of the issues that might hamper the evening.
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