West Kensington’s old mannequin factory used to be full of dummies.
Then, for a while, it was filled with schoolkids, and then it was… empty.
But as part of the rejuvenation going on in Earl’s Court (so long, Exhibition Centre), it’s about to be brought back to life as a creative arts hub by the people behind In Night’s Darkling Glory and The Great Masked Ball.
That is to say: The Lost Estate has found a home.
Run by three Royal College of Music graduates, the company’s got the run of the space for the next three years at least, and besides performance space there’ll also be reasonably-priced studios and rehearsal rooms for hire.
The Lost Estate have made a name for themselves by staging mysterious, site-specific events on a grand scale, fusing live music, dance and theatre with exquisite set dressing, unusual hidden locations, and, as a literal cherry on top, full-blown banquets thrown in for good measure. Their last big show, pre-pandemic, was a faithful recreation of a roaring speakeasy, with a house jazz band, bootlegged cocktails and food courtesy of temper…
…and if you’re disappointed you missed that, you’ll be relieved to hear that their first new show, opening in March 2023, will be another liquor-drenched tale from the Prohibition era. The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age will be based on the true story of Park Avenue’s ‘Belle of Bohemia’, Belle Livingstone. Step into her salon — described in a 1930 edition of the New York Daily News as “a ritzy rendevous for liquoratis” — and flag down the roaming oyster & martini trolley as the live band strikes up. It’s here you’ll also find ex-Smokestak head chef Ashley Clarke serving up a three-course feast of clam chowder with freshly baked cornbread; buttermilk fried chicken with lobster buffalo sauce; and beignets (bite-sized doughnuts) with roasted peach compote and salted caramel sauce. Cue the entry of Belle’s two millionaire ex-husbands, and the night promises to get interesting…
If you can’t wait till next year, they’ll be launching the new venue this Christmas with the return of their hugely popular Dickensian show, The Great Christmas Feast. It gets livelier than Fezziwig’s annual knees-up in there, with steaming platters of Victorian fare delivered to your table as Scrooge undergoes a transformative experience thanks to a series of ghostly visitations.
Mind you, the roasties are pretty life-changing, too.
NOTE: Tickets for The Greatest Night of the Jazz Age are on sale now, booking for 7th March – 28th May 2023. They’re priced at £30-155, and you can book HERE.
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