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ATTRACTION REVIEW

Journey to the Underworld Review (2018) Funicular

A tasty trip to purgatory

On a surprisingly sunny evening in late September we found ourselves stood outside Pedley Street Station awaiting our ‘Journey to the Underworld’. An immersive dining/theatre hybrid, the show sees guests seated on a train making a (potentially) one-way trip to the Underworld accompanied by Claude, a man on a mission to rescue his one true love, Sabine, from the clutches of The Dark One.

I was a tiny bit leery of this one – not for any reason other than that events of this ilk tend to rely heavily on audience participation – something that truly sends a shiver down my spine! Getting that out the way first, Journey to the Underworld was, thankfully, pretty light touch on those elements with nothing approaching Dungeons-level ‘ritual humiliation’! It was simply fun and Claude, who led the majority of the interactions, was an engaging character, seemingly bemused by our presence on this train.

The theatrical elements were nicely divided up between the four courses and, man, was the food good! With a menu from Louisa Ellis (Masterchef The Professionals finalist in 2017), everything that was put in front of our faces looked and tasted amazing! My favourite was probably the main of pan-seared guinea fowl breast closely followed by the chocolate ganache dessert but there wasn’t a dropped ball amongst any of the offerings! One thing regarding the menu though; unlike at Delectably Dead, the food wasn’t specifically themed to the narrative which would have been the cherry on top! But there’s a cocktail menu that has that angle covered. Based around the seven deadly sins, I can only speak for Gluttony – a Baileys, vodka and espresso combo that was so good I may have had two! It’s important that the menu was a success as the night definitely hinges on this.

As for the theatrical aspect, the performances were terrific across the board. Gordy, our maitre d’, was unnervingly effervescent, providing a fair bit of comic relief and bouncing off Claude perfectly. Gordon Maxwell brilliantly balanced the role with some of the hosting duties and made us feel very welcome although, given the ultimate destination of the train, we’re not sure if we should be praising that!

The show spent most of its time with Claude, a kind-hearted soul despite the fact that he had clearly been crushed by the weight of the world. Enlisting us to aid him in his quest, James Hamer-Morton was clearly having a ball interacting with the guests and his enthusiasm was infectious. With effortless ad-libs, he presented Claude as an endearing and sympathetic person which was essential for the final act.

And then there was Sabine, played by Charlie Bond, who was actually pretty scary! Under the control of The Dark One, Sabine channeled a pure Hammer Horror/Bride of Dracula type vibe and was a harsh reminder as to our current predicament – we were in the Underworld after all! She was a nice counter to the (relatively) upbeat Claude and Gordy and we would’ve liked to have seen this character appear in the show earlier than she did!

I also have to mention the smaller details littered throughout this experience. One cool feature was that the train’s windows were actually TV screens, bringing our journey to life in a way that the show obviously couldn’t pull off physically! It wholly complemented the appearance of the train and added that extra layer of atmosphere. This attention to detail extended to almost every part of the night – even the front of house staff were all in character! Special shout out to the actress staffing the cloakroom – she had a wonderful dry wit to her which kicked the night off in the right fashion!

Overall, we had a great time on our expedition. It’s worth noting that whilst there is obviously a heavy theatric side to this event, it very much plays second fiddle to the dining aspect. As good as the show was, it felt very light and easily digestible. Not necessarily a bad thing – more that we enjoyed what we saw so much that we just wish there was more of it! So I think it’s worth going in with the mindset of dinner with a show rather than a show with dinner. It’s maybe something more noticeable to us as we cover immersive productions, not dining events so, naturally, that’s where our focus was!


Second Opinion


The theming to the ‘Underworld’ is so strong throughout; from the entrance where you collect your boarding pass to the holding area before you board the train. Be on your guard as not everything is as it seems!


The theatrical element of the show commenced before we even boarded the train. The cast of Claude and Gordy engage you throughout the evening, delivering the story of Claude’s quest to rescue his one true love, Sabine.


The company lucked out with such a great cast featuring the strong lead Claude, his sidekick Gordy and finally the leading lady Sabine. Each actor delivered the entertaining tale with passion and a tint of humour. I feel at times some of the guests were more interested in their food than the performance happening around them and Claude was very clever when he spotted this by taking the opportunity to bring the customers into the tale by asking them for help or making a quip as he walked past.


Unfortunately, there was one scene in the play that made no sense to me. This was when we were visited by the Gatekeeper and had to steal their key to help Claude on his mission. Bear in mind that this experience was called ‘Journey to the Underworld’, I would have expected a spooky, fear-laced moment here. Instead, we were met with a Burlesque dance. This part completely lost me and I was just wishing for the end. Fortunately, Claude soon came back to pick my interest up again.


As this experience is also about the dining, I should mention the food. It was delivered at various breaks from the theatrical performance and consisted of four courses including the entree. The dishes were beautifully presented and were a real treat for the palate. That said, I was a little disappointed that the theme of the night, ‘Journey to the Underworld’, wasn’t present in the food or its presentation. The drinks were on-theme and so were the wait staff so this was a slight letdown for me.


This production was a different experience to many that we encounter running a horror site however I still really enjoyed our evening. The theming was so strong; I loved all the effects and tricks used in the train and the story that was presented to the audience.


I felt the dining experience spoiled some of the immersive elements but, luckily, with the excellent casting of the actors, they seemed to know how to pull the customers back into the story.


Claude was excellent as the lead, he captured the role very well and I loved the comedic touches that he added to the character. He was very good at bringing guests into the story which is a special skill to have in immersive theatre. Gordy, our maitre d’, was another great star of the show. He stayed in character all night even when he met us outside the station before embarking onto the train. He did an excellent job from serving the dinner through to his sidekick moments with Claude. As for our leading lady Sabine, she was excellent at playing the overdramatic damsel, who probably had the toughest time with all the costume changes! The chemistry between Claude and Sabine was very cute and came out well to the audience.


Overall I really enjoyed the show, you will have a fun experience and love the food. If like me you visit for the theatre side the story is strong and dark but don’t expect anything too scary or haunting!

Journey to the Underworld - Funicular
  • Originality
  • Scare Factor
  • Staff
  • Execution
  • Value for Money
4

Summary

+ Food
+ Performances

- Would’ve liked more of the theatrical aspect

For the asking price you get a brilliant meal, a wonderfully performed show and a cool location - all things considered, it’s definitely worth taking this Journey to the Underworld!

Price: £57.00
Address: Pedley Street Station, Arch 63, Pedley Street, London, E1 5BW
Website: http://www.funicularproductions.com/journeytotheunderworld

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