A gastronomic and artistic feast – “An evening of meat” immersive performance at The Vaults, Waterloo

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Posted by May B on Tuesday 10th of April 2018




I always enjoy going to The Vaults deep below Waterloo station and passing along the graffiti tunnel to the dark entrance. It feels as edgy and alternative as the performances there. And tonight was no different – I was right out of my comfort zone and in awe of such raw creativity.

To get to Kate March’s “An evening of meat” we followed a long, dark corridor with occasional illumination from shaky chandeliers which opened into a large domed space (below the train arches).

Workmanlike, partially exposed brick walls and pipes housed an eclectic assortment of seating (from sofas to higher than high bar stools). Large fairy lights adorn the ceiling and spot lights pick out Rachel Ducker’s extraordinary wire sculptures.

We headed to the bar for a drink. Doors open at 630pm and the experience starts at 730pm – so you need to get your chatting done in advance. The music is alternative but you can hardly hear it with the constant rumblings of the trains overhead.

Reminiscent of school days, the cheerful maître d’ calls out the guests names – there are single and mixed sex couples, small groups and some singles. We pass curtained areas to proceed up some rickety steps which opens into a dining hall with three large banqueting style tables. You can’t fail to notice the furled figures of scantily-clad sleeping girls lying across those tables.

There were red lights providing a soft glow as the performers slowly emerged and started moving cautiously around the table tops. Some of the dances were synchronised across all five dancers and others were more individualistic artistic and acrobatic. There was a leader in a cape. All the dancers were dressed a little like burlesque but the effect was quirky and playful rather than erotic. The original music hinted at electro funk at some points and acid house and jazz dance at others.

And so the meat feast began. Six courses to be precise. Initially there was a tantalising scoop of chicken liver parfait in a tiny cone with beetroot glaze and walnut crumb. Then there were tiny salt baked potatoes on swirls of yeast beurre noisette with crisp pancetta. Then seared carpaccio of dry-aged beef with beans, puffed rice and a Thai dressing. All delicious. Although the braised mutton shoulder on a bed of minted peas with dehydrated feta and charred garlic was less to my taste. Further courses included pig cheek oysters with lentils and chocolate ganache. There were vegetarian options throughout.

And while we ate and drank, the dancers continued tirelessly. The choreography was jaw dropping. Sometimes the girls entwined and coupled, sometimes they play-fought across tables, sometimes they convulsed, sometimes they grappled. They played with cloaks and ropes and water and even the diners. It was mesmerising. And unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Some have called it feminist. I call it artistic, abstract and experiential. And utterly different. Not quite everyone’s cup of tea. But there’s no doubt it was a gastronomic and visual feast. And not one that will be easily forgotten.

Tickets from £35. Runs until 2nd June.

Further details https://www.thevaults.london/an-evening-of-meat

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