THE GREATEST SNOWMAN
A review by Tanya Howard
After having such an amazing time at Funicular Production’s last immersive theatre dining experience, Journey To The Underworld, I was really excited to return to Pedley Street Station for their latest creation, The Greatest Showman. Once again they brought back BBC MasterChef: The Professionals Finalist Louisa Ellis to create the menu for the event.
Arriving at the station we were taken to our table aboard the train carriage and were sad to see that the interactive window we were sat by was broken. The digital projection on the table had what I believe was snow flying across it but sadly it looked like bugs running over the table, and was a little unsettling each time it caught my eye.
The show began with our last minute conductor Doris, who had to take over after the previous one quit, getting the train prepped for our journey to the Christmas Markets in Birmingham. As the journey begins we meet Ed Snow who is a complete Grinch about Christmas and questions the premise of Christmas since it’s become too commercial and people have become greedy.
After this the first course of the menu was dished out, a caramelised cauliflower volute, with crispy onions and yeast flakes. Unfortunately it was not to my particular taste and the fact there was flakes of yeast sounded a bit scary to me. We tried to order some drinks at this point but it was quite a struggle to get any for most of the night in comparison to the last show.
The story continued and suddenly the train was plunged into darkness and you could head Ed Snow shouting “They’ve found me” as he fled the carriage. “They” turned out to be Jessy Claus and two elves, bringing with them the magic of Christmas and thankfully they fixed our broken window and the snow flurries on the table became Christmas patterns. I had found the performance up till this point quite flat and a bit of a let down so thank god for Jessy Claus and the elves because their energy and spirits saved the day.
The next dish from our four course meal was Varieties of Jerusalem Artichoke, Grilled Globe Artichoke and Baby Rocket. After finishing this we were told the story of The Greatest Snowman and the origins of Christmas, including how Ed Snow had lost his love for Christmas as it became less about love and giving. The time in between the courses was not consistent with some extremely long in comparison to some that were rushed through, the main course was quite a wait.
The main course was my favourite dish from the four, a 3 Bird Roast, Chicken Skin, Carvolo Nero, Parsnip Puree, Potato Rosti and Citrus Sauce. The time out from the show during the main course was extremely long in comparison to any other breaks and it made us switch off from the story a bit as we were just sat around chatting about other stuff. Especially in comparison to dessert being served and the show continuing whilst we ate and abruptly finishing altogether.
The show ends with Jessy Claus confronting Ed Snow to reveal his identity as the greatest snowman, and that they need his help to bring back the spirit of Christmas as negative attitudes and lack of beliefs are killing the spirit of Christmas. And just like that Ed throws on a small white cape, orange scarf and a white top hat and he is one again restored to his former self. This part of the story seemed quite rushed and I felt like it could have been a bigger and bolder moment and they could have done so much more with it.
Dessert was Abi’s favourite meal of the four, Salted Caramel Ice Cream with Poached Pear and Vanilla Snow. Funicular cater really well for any allergies and intolerances and I had a coconut milk sorbet instead of the ice cream as there was nuts in it and we both got amended main courses to accommodate our allergies. There was also a vegetarian/vegan alternative for the main course, with Mushroom Wellington replacing the 3 Bird Roast and Mustard Sauce instead of Citrus Sauce.
As the show ended we were directed to the North Pole bar and after finishing dessert we were the first ones to come out. The decorations were so picturesque and the atmosphere of the bar really really gave the feel of Christmas, I would have loved to have seen this prior to entering the train as I think it would have been perfect for getting us in the mood.
Sadly the show was a bit of a let down for me but I absolutely loved the previous show, Journey To The Underworld, and so I would never write off the experience. You could see that a lot of work had gone into the effects and the energy of the actors, especially the elves who were our highlight of the night, was infectious. I just think they could have done more with the story and the timing needed a bit of work but I’m excited to see where Funicular go next.