Friday, 26 April 2013

A Grand evening of Theatre

I'm still living by my "Yes" motto so on Saturday night when Matt called to say he had a last minute extra ticket to some dinner theatre in Folkestone and did I want it, it was only a short hesitation before I agreed.
I have never been to the Grand Hotel in Folkestone before.  Like its name, it is a grandiose building and reminded me somewhat of the buildings in Cheltenham.  Located on the sea front, it is a wonderful example of slightly faded Edwardian elegance, from the traditional revolving doors in deep weathered wood with worn varnish to the high panelled ceilings with sparkling chandeliers, delicate stained glass and floor to ceiling windows streaming in the light and sun from the seashore just yards away.
 It's a wonderful building, full of intricate details and hidden delights.
Whilst I had never been here before, Matt had and reliably informed me that they do a good cream tea.

While ordering pre-show drinks the bar staff gave me an impromptu history lesson on the Hotel after seeing me in full shutterbug mode.  King Edward VII stayed here on numerous occasions, with both the Queen and his intimate friend Alice Keppel.  The antics of the King and his friends resulted in their favourite room, the Glasshouse earning the nickname of the Monkey House which then led to the origin of the phrase 'monkey business'!
The hotel even has its own brand of Kentish ale. 
The dinner and play were held in the Ballroom, opened in 1909.  It had been updated with art deco features whilst retaining the soft colour palette that the Edwardian's were famous for.

I felt like I had been transported back in time, the features were stunning and the room was beautifully proportioned, with mirror strips running across the ceiling in varigated pastel shades and etched mirrors reflecting the soft lighting across the room.  The details were everywhere.
This was a very different atmosphere to the last Cafe Theatre I went to at The Parrot!

All tables had been set up facing the stage which was dressed to recreate a 1958 living room in Hammersmith.
A pianist serenaded the diners through their two course meal included with the ticket price.
Matt and I did feel slightly out of place and under-dressed.  There was a definite target audience for this production and we didn't quite fit into that category!

The play was In By The Half by Jimmie Chinn and performed by the Company of 12.  As with most dinner / cafe theatre it was a one act play and in this case was a very gentle comedy exploring the broken relationship between a retired actress and her daughter.. 
Matt had heard about the play through the Director, a wonderful woman who frequents his local pub.   She was so warm and welcoming to me and immediately demanded that I call her Auntie Maggie.
As always I don't take photos throughout the show as it is incredibly distracting for the actors involved.

Instead I made do with snapping details in the bar.
Post show we made our way back to Canterbury for a final tipple in The Phoenix, Matt's local where we chatted with Auntie Maggie about In By The Half.

Have you ever been to dinner or cafe theatre?  What were your thoughts?

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