Dinner Party Divas Rewrite The Rules at Heads Up

TripAdvisor Read Review: Olives were thrown at us and scattered on the table. The plastic container left with no attempt to place the food in a suitable dish. Hard dry kernels of corn were showered upon us before the main course, one even finding its way into my half glass of Prosecco. The serving staff were sullen, unhelpful and in some cases downright rude. Our hosts were condescending, more concerned with upstaging each other, than presenting themselves or the art of dinner party hosting, with any due respect.


Non Applicables Sian Myers and Fenella Ryan

The de-clenching of the buttocks was particularly distasteful. I’m appalled to report that dinner guests, with alternative meal requirements, were singled out for humiliation and forced to wear a silly hat throughout the meal. Further humiliation was meted out with impunity: I sat open-mouthed as groups of guests were unfairly rounded upon and individuals singled out. I was myself publicly shamed, after being cruelly deceived by the aforementioned sullen staff, ironically referred to as the Go-Getters.  

Days later I can still see the horror on the faces, as the wine was not so much poured, as sloshed from the bottles into glasses. The food being thumped down on the table, and the being spoken to like children not as paying adult guests all contributed, to a feeling of being inmates in some dreadful institution.

'The Go-Getters' Tamar Draper and Steph Potter

‘The Go-Getters’ Tamar Draper and Steph Potter

Quite honestly I was glad that our so-called hosts kept disappearing, the time was needed to catch your breath, before the next tirade of insults and accusations. I did get to know my fellow-diners, one does when one has to spend time consoling and reassuring them between courses. The entire event was an outrage… and the Non Applicables should be very proud.

Guide to the Perfect Dinner Party invited us to the high table to learn all manner of do’s and don’ts, so that we could in turn host better parties ourselves. We were in effect, in training. Anecdotes, acronyms, unusual etiquette combined with delightful and well-researched performances, all made for a very different evening out.

Having marvelled at the performance duo’s exacting interpretation of courting lyre birds in What’s Love Got To Do With It? the depiction of the two prawns, was equally as perfectly realised. The sight of those delicate little prawns in salmon pinks, waving their swimmerets in time to the disco music, will linger long after the flavour of the Marie Rose sauce has faded.


The choreography was rich with humour, the exaggerated expressions and movement, suiting the parodic nature of the event as a whole. The relationship between the performance and the food was of particular importance, the revised menu worked well and allowed the performance to dominate, rather than the dishes.

The ‘chickens’ in pillbox hats strutting and parading in unison upon the stage, to Cossack music, sure helped me swallow my deconstructed Kiev. The serving of the food was thoughtful and inventive; in some cases something of an education too. Who knew what a cape gooseberry even looked like, let alone how it tasted, before tonight?

kiev deconstruct

Deconstructed Chicken Kiev in a box

The piece-de-resistance, the dessert trolley was beautifully flamboyant and fun. The music choices and costumes were remarked upon more than once, by dinner guests. The simplicity of the knickerbockers, the smart pantaloons and the frills, all helped tell the story of the three distinct themes, that made up the three course meal.

I was particularly interested in the group dynamics that began to emerge as guests reached out to each other. The show took on a sense of us and them: we would stick together and stick up for our fellow guests, as they treated us so meanly. 

non applicables dinner party

‘The Hosts’ Fenella and Sian

For these kind of audience interaction shows to work well, the hosts need tight control on the reins and to have responses ready for every eventuality. Whether you decide upon stooges, or you trust that a given audience member will just play along and not try to second guess or even ruin the gag, it is a very tricky tightrope to walk.  Sian and Fen coped well with the unknowns and for the most, managed to keep all the plates spinning. 

The chap sat next to me asked whether they were taking this to Edinburgh Fringe? If the show is to go on tour, it will have to become even more fluid and responsive, as each particular situation, venue and participant demands. There is more room and scope to play with Guide to the Perfect Dinner Party: time will only improve the performance, until it is the perfect performance every time.  

Company site: http://nonapplicables.co.uk/  @NonApplicables


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Filed under Art blogs, Theatre

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