Picture me, at my work, checking the ole ‘gram during my lunchbreak. It’s National Pie Day, and I’m busy rolling my eyes about these made-up days while at the same time wishing I had a pie for lunch instead of my bagel, when a post catches my eye. A post featuring the picture of a pie.
A post feature the picture of a petite pie, even.
It’s in a glass jar. A very small looking glass jar (a pint-sized potted pie picture post?). But with enough whipped cream to deflate even the most exuberate Saturday morning kids’ TV host.
“Sweet news!” read the accompanying post. “We will be offering a delicious selection of our famous pie jars at performances of #WaitressLondon...” yadda yadda yadda. I had already stopped reading. I was too busy scuttling across the office to show the picture to my colleague Nicki.
“We’re going, right?” I said, as if that was even a question that needed to be asked.
We were definitely going.
At first we tried to get tickets to the open dress rehearsal, but when that didn’t work out, we decided that we were willing to buy actual tickets. With money.
“Where do you want to sit?” asked Nicki, seat plan prepped and open on her computer.
“Somewhere cheap. We want to save money for pie.”
“I mean, pie is ninety percent of the reason I’m going.”
Our pie chat had managed to attract the attention of Martha. Not content with our upcoming Les Mis trip, she wanted in on the pie-action too.
Looks like we were having a group-outing then! I just hoped the Adelphi were ready for us.
Turns out though, when the day came round, we weren’t ready for us.
Martha was unwell, and the prospect of a West End musical with added sugar overdose was making her feel queasy.
Plus, we now had a spare tickets.
Double sucks .
Just to demonstrate the levels of our popularity, it took the entirety of our afternoons for me and Nicki to find someone to take that ticket. And yeah, it was Nicki who succeeded in bringing in our ringer pie-eater. But that’s neither here nor there. I mean, yes - she’s younger, cooler, and has a better knowledge of Chinatown eateries than me. But I’m still great company, and frankly I’m deeply offended by all those people who claimed to have ‘other plans’ when I asked them.
It was a Monday night.
No one has plans on a Monday night.
Well, except me and Nicki. And now… Kate.
Nicki wasted no time in telling Kate all about the marathon when we all met up at Cambridge Circus.
“You’ve been to 58 theatres? Since the beginning of January?” exclaimed Kate, doing her very best to keep the panic from her eyes.
“This will be number 59,” I admitted. It does rather sound a lot when you say it like that.
Thankfully, but the time we’d reached this conclusion we were already at our first stop of the evening: Bun House, in Chinatown.
“Right, we need the custard ones,” started Nicki as we joined the queue. “Do we want savoury? I think we need savoury if we're having custard. You like spicy don’t you? Have about three custard, two chicken, two lamb, and two beef. That’s equal, isn’t it?”
And if you are ever out with Nicki, I highly recommend letting her take charge of the ordering. That girl knows her shit. The bao buns were pillowy soft. The lamb was just the right amount of spicy. The chicken was pure pate goodness and the custard…
“Did you see the sign?” said Kate after filling up her water bottle. “They have a squirty guarantee.”
I’m delighted to say that none of us got our money back.
I’m less delighted to say that I ended up with custard on my scarf. And my t-shirt. And my skirt.
Now suitably filthy, it was off to our next stop.
Not the theatre. Don’t be silly.
The Chinatown bakery.
“I really want the custard fish,” I announced.
This time Kate was unable to hide the horror. “Custard? Fish?”
“She means Taiyaki,” explains Nicki, taking on the role of Maxine-translator.
She was right though, I did mean Taiyaki. Those little pancakes, stuffed with sweat things, and pressed into the shape of a fish. But I like called them custard fish because it reminds of that Matt-Smith-as-Doctor-Who-fish-fingers-and-custard scene.
We bought the little custard ones, hot off the literal press, before moving on to their grown up cousins filled with Nutella and red bean paste. Nutella or red bean paste, rather. Not a chocolate and red bean mush. Although…
I say moving on, but really it was really me who moved on. Nicki picked a beef bao, but Kate was tapping out. I was left to carb out my own path through the bakery.
By this time we were really running rather late, and I had to sprint down the Strand ahead of the other two in order to get my photo of the theatre before we went in.
“Where’s the pie? Did you see pie?” asked Nicki as we jogged up the stairs towards our seats in the grand circle.
I hadn’t seen pie. That was a little worrying. What if there was no pie? This was an outcome that I had not allowed myself to consider up until that point. But there was no chance of that… was there? The good people of the Adelphi Theatre couldn’t possibly expect me to watch an entire musical about pie after having only consumed three baos and a mini custard Taiyaki? The fact that we had smuggled an entire box of treats in with us was hardly the point. Taiyaki is not pie. Baos are not pie. Spring onion chicken floss roll is… well I don’t know what it is, but it certainly ain’t pie.
“That hasn’t to be the most beautiful safety curtain I’ve ever seen,” said Nicki. I looked over, surprised that we had moved on from pie.
Turned out we hadn’t.
The safety curtain was patterned with the intricate weavings in and out of the lattice-topped cherry pie.
“And look at the pie cases!” she continued.
Two glasses cases, positioned either side of the stage and running the full height - stuffed with a rotating display of pies.
I hadn’t even noticed them until she’d pointed them out.
Now I couldn’t stop staring at them.
All that pie.
My stomach grumbled. I really needed pie.
A need that only intensified watching Katherine McPhee scatter flour, cream butter, roll pastry, all the while singing about pie.
As soon as the house lights rose for the interval I was up and out of my seat.
"Pie?" I asked Kate and Nicki.
I didn't wait for their response. I was already fighting my way out of the row, leaving a trail of trodden toes in my wake.
Out in the grand circle landing there was no sign of pie.
The merch desk only served a selection of non edible flavours.
They had to be at the bar.
Up the steps, through the crowd, and there, in a refrigerated case was... heaven in a mason jar.
I got myself in the queue, and waited. And waited.
Eventually Nicki and Kate caught up with me. The lure of pie too strong for even them to resist.
The fridge opened and closed as orders were placed. The pies leaving to start their new, better, if somewhat shorter, lives.
There was only two left on the top shelf.
Oh no. It was imperative that I try all the flavours. How could I ever hold my head up high as a serious theatre blogger if I did not sample each and every one of the pie variations on offer?
One of the people working behind the bar was making her way down to the fridge.
I held my breath, sending up a quick prayer to the theatre gods.
A barman called us forward.
"One of each of the pies please."
The fridge opened. Two hands went in, reaching for the top shelf.
"Oh, did you want too?" said our barman .
"No, just the one," came the reply.
I breathed again.
"All the flavours was it?"
I nodded. "Yes please!" I willed him on. We had secured one flavour, but there was still two to go.
"Don't you want to know what the flavours are?" he asked, seemingly unconcerned by how precarious this situation was.
"It really doesn't matter." I was going to eat them all anyway.
But he was not to be put off. We were going to hear about the flavours whether we wanted to or not.
"This one's Chocolate Salted Caramel," he said, taking one from the bottom row. "This," he said moving into the second, "is Banoffee. And this is Apple Crumble."
"Great, great, great," I said, already reaching for my purse.
"That's £18, please."
Eighteen pounds. Eighteen pounds. EiGhtEen pOundS!?!
I knew they were six pounds each, but eighteen pounds sounded like a staggering amount of money to spend on pie.
But I stuck my card in the machine and paid. Of course I did.
Three pies. Three theatre goers. And a small corner of the bar.
We each grabbed a spoon, ready to tuck in.
"Shit, wait! I need to take photos!"
My phone chose that moment to switch itself off.
It gets its poor timing from its Mama.
Nicki stepped in and let me borrow hers.
Anything to hurry matters up so that we could get to the pie.
I started with the Chocolate Salted Caramel (properly called a turtle pie, according to Nicki). Teeth rottingly sweet. I took another spoonful just to double check, digging in deeper this time to get to the dense biscuit base layer. Wooden spoons are not the best tools for such an excavation. I'd recommend a jackhammer.
Next up, Apple Crumble. No base layer on this one. Underneath the crumble topping it was pure chunky apple slop all the way down.
Last up, the Banoffee. Topped with whipped cream. Not quite the dairy extravaganza promised by the Instagram post, but the neat dollop sufficed.
"That's the winner," I confidently announced.
Nicki didn't agree. She doesn't like Banoffee.
"The apple pie's my favourite."
She took it home with her. Someone had to. Sticking three mason jars filled with leftover pie into my bag is not something I could ever admit to. Even to you. But two jars? Two jars is an acceptable level of leftover pie to be lugging around in your bag, I feel.
One standing ovation later (not quite on the level of Come From Away if I being honest, but... okay) and my teeth still tingling from all that caramel, I got out my phone to try and grab a photo of the set before we left.
"Focus, damn it," I ordered my phone.
It didn't focus.
But it was trying.
I could hear an unhealthy whirring as it attempted to turn the blurry mess on the screen into anything approaching reality. The image flickered, but the clouds of colour failed to come together with any level of detail beyond a general haze.
“Max…” said Nicki as they both waited for me. “Do you want me to take some photos for you.”
Chastised, I put away my phone. “Yes please.”
And she did.
Of the set. And the staff dressed in waitress uniforms down in the foyer. And anything else I asked.
It was great.
So, if any theatre gods are listening - a personal photographer to follow me around on my marathon would be super.
As for Kate, she’s apparently reading the blog now - so remember to be polite and pretend to be normal while the nice lady’s here.