In a quiet corner of the O2, in an old nightclub to be precise, a party is kicking off… and Abba is in charge of the entertainment! Mamma Mia the Party has come to London and this is a show like no other. Dinner, drinks, dancing and a whole lot more. Is this the new direction for theatrical entertainment?
Billed as an ‘immersive dining experience’, Mamma Mia the Party invites guest to fly to a Greek island and visit Nikos Taverna for dinner. At an eye-watering £135 for the lowest price ticket (rising to over £150 once you add the compulsory 12% booking fee) you’d expect the best from all areas – the food, the show and the experience. Well, it gets two out of three right but luckily the experience is the one they nail.
First things first – this is NOT Mamma Mia. I, along with many, came along expecting the movie/stage musical but with food and drinks. It’s a completely new story, written by Björn Ulvaeus himself along with Calle Norlén and Roine Söderlundh. Sadly, it’s the weakest part of the venture. The plot seems to be centred around taverna owner Nikos’ animosity towards his daughter’s English boyfriend. That’s about it, except for a handyman coming to fix the kitchen. The humour seems a bit obvious and I just wanted a bit more from the whole thing. The production values are fantastic – water feature, aerial work and pyrotechnics included – but their use is quite random, particularly in a very strange ‘dream sequence’ in act two.
But hey, I still had a FANTASTIC time.
The venue buzzes from the moment you step foot inside, and even before that you are checked in and told what the weather is like on the Greek island! Every single member of staff is committed to the experience – our waitress was bubbly and chatty all evening. The venue has a surprisingly intimate feel despite fitting in hundreds of diners, and that continues to your table which, although feels a little squashed, is perfect for meeting strangers. We all came in groups of two, but quickly became friends for the evening, passing around food and laughing about the show happening around us.
And it really does happen around you. At some moments I was inches away from the cast. What a cast too! Steph Archer (known for her last minute dash to save the day in Mamma Mia in the West End) takes on the leading role of Kate. She really gets the Mamma Mia vibe and constantly includes the audience, while showing off some fab vocals of course. Fed Zanni really takes ownership of the ‘master of the house’ role, guiding you through the show and buzzing about his restaurant constantly cracking jokes.
Package this up with tasty food (even by my picky standards), a fun venue to explore and an Abba disco running into the night, and this is the ultimate theatrical dining experience. It deserves a better story, but forget that and it’s entertaining, lively and just downright fun. Even the worst day can be brightened up in this place, and don’t we all need a bit of that in our lives right now?
Mamma Mia the Party is currently at the O2, with performances until 16 February 2020. You can buy tickets online directly here, or through London Box Office here.
Tickets thanks to London Box Office! Views completely my own…
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks (in body) & Dewynters London (featured image)