London’s hidden Twin Peaks pop-up will be around a little longer due to popular demand, I had the opportunity to dine with the locals.
We reported on the opening of The Owls Are Not What They Seem back in July. At a secret, hidden location in London, Twin Peaks inspired pop-up restaurant serves up coffee and cherry pie along with an evening of immersive mystery and intrigue. Such has been demand for the experience that the diner will now stay open until the 21st of November with two, two hour sittings an evening.
Twin Peaks is almost unanimously considered David Lynch‘s greatest work. The early nineties show, set in small-town America ran for two seasons and threw away the rule book for how television series could be presented with its surreal nature and unnatural beat. It proved to be the pivotal moment that set new boundaries and a new precedent for a great many television shows that have followed. Twin Peaks elevated actors like Kyle MacLachlan (playing FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper) into the mainstream consciousness and received tremendous critical and public acclaim during its short, eight episode long first season. Revolving around the murder of Laura Palmer many interactions took place in the Double R Diner, and it’s at an approximation of that location that we will dine tonight with many of the locals joining us.
I’m not a naturally social person, I’m not usually the first person to strike up a conversation and I certainly have always shied away from events that require audience participation. I should have been way beyond my comfort zone at The Owls Are Not What They Seem (the title of the pop-up alludes to the satanic owls that inhabit Twin Peaks). From the moment you enter the hidden entrance you are thrust into the action, via intimidation with a golf club and threats of physical harm, (all part of the show) and must assume a character, act out your persona and maintain your allaby. Everyone’s a suspect in the murder case being investigated at the Double R Diner tonight. Between courses you are encouraged to look around ‘the town’, talk to the locals (including the strange but very endearing Log Lady, complete with log) and, depending on your character, perform tasks set out for you either by one of the actors, or from your character sheet. For me, passing a note to the affable manageress of the diner seemed like getting off light. I had no idea what was coming later and I had no idea that my wife (IRL) was going to go off to a bedroom with another man to fulfil her character’s task.
Meanwhile actors play out their parts loudly and with gusto whilst guests are encouraged to mingle, ask questions, drink cocktails and get involved. By being brave and exploring the various areas of the set (make sure you venture outside) you’ll let yourself in for an immense amount of enjoyment. There are no real rules and little guided structure, but ultimately nothing you can do will alter the outcome of the evening, yet you really feel a part of proceedings during the two hours of escapism and eccentricity.
The event is the brainchild of Lemonade and Laughing Gas who specialise in creating these kinds of moments, whilst the food – as eccentric as the proceedings, modest in size but very tasty – comes from food designers Blanch & Shock. As for the coffee? It tastes like coffee, but there’s an awful lot of alcohol in those mugs, but the cherry pie is to die for.
The Owls Are Not What They Seem achieved the impossible, I came so far out of my shell that I forgot where I left it. I immersed myself fully into the swing of things and somehow found myself, on the spot, singing the blues to a room full of strangers at a memorial service for the dead girl. Somehow I enjoyed this and I took pleasure in the entire, very well put together, evening immensely. Regardless of how well you know the source material, I cannot recommend a night in Twin Peaks highly enough.
Tickets cost £66.50 per sitting including access to the bar after. Access to the bar alone is just £6. Visit notwhattheyseem.com for more information.