Held at the Murray Theatre, An Evening in Canterbury combined an authentic 14th century seven course meal with amateur theatre and abundant cos-play. The price of admission included costume rental, but my girlfriend and I were running late so we didn’t partake. We were in the minority, with most folks decked out in bright felt renditions of Middle English Garb. The alcohol-free event (yay . . .) consisted of four of Chaucer’s tales narrated by actors milling through the audience, while up on stage the rest of the cast performed a rough pantomime of the events. The food was the highlight of the evening. It was hearty and different, but the service was clumsy and slow and everything that arrived on my table was luke-warm or became so quickly. Nevertheless: tasty stuff.
Between and before tales the actors would mill around the tables, interacting with the audience in character. I’m sure this seemed like a good idea on paper, and there were even a few actors capable of pulling it off, but the amateur nature of the performance led to quite a few awkward silences and moments of embarrassment –– the kind of embarrassment you feel for someone else. The Miller and The Pardoner were notably capable of maintaining character through spontaneous conversation, but the rest needed a bit more practice. I’m not hatin’, it was amateur theatre and everyone was putting in the effort, I just wish maybe I could’ve had a beer to lubricate some of the interactions.
Now that I think about it, this may have been the dorkiest thing I’ve ever done. For reference, I’ve reviewed videogames in SLUG for two and a half years, my cat’s name is Obi-Wan Katnobi, my dog Samus Aran, I studied literature in college, and I look like Shaggy from Scooby-Doo. Point is, the event beat out an impressive array of truly dorky things to earn its place as the dorkiest thing I’ve ever done. No small feat, to be sure.
It’s hard to review this experience for SLUG Mag, as it was A) geared toward forty-something Murray-folk looking for a date night that’s equal parts ‘unique’ and ‘completely safe’, and B) toned down, such that even the tales of Chaucer (a naughty, dirty old man even by today’s standards) were mild and family friendly. These facts make me think the general SLUG readership wouldn’t particularly enjoy this event, unless they snuck in a hipflask under their garter. But I’ve been wrong before: if you’re reading this and you’re married with a gaggle of spawn and looking for a ‘unique’ (read: safe) way to spend an evening, Canterbury dinner theatre is a warm, delightful romp through the food and fables of 14th century England. In spite of any complaints I may have had, I definitely enjoyed myself, and I was plenty full, which, in the end, is a combination that spells Success in my book.