The medieval era was a time of great jollity, when minstrels traveled from town to town performing select scenes from mildly popular WB sitcoms. Escape from modern day to unmodern day with today's Groupon: for $24, you get an adult ticket to a medieval comedy show plus a four-course, all-you-can-eat feast at Medieval Madness on King Street in Alexandria (a $49 value). During the show, you're also entitled to as much ale as you can handle. Medieval Madness's house ale is lovingly crafted by the original American monk, brother Samuel Adams.
Once dinner guests step through the doors and into Renaissance Hall, the year is 1416, the country is England, and all are invited to the anniversary feast of the Duke and Duchess of Salem. Watch the comedic events unfold as you stuff yourself with offerings from the four-course, medieval menu. The fare changes regularly but has included multi-grain bread with blackberries and walnuts, great hunks of roasted beef carved on reproduction dining tables, roasted game fowl with carrots and herbs, and warm apple turnovers. Just like in the 15th century, the meal is all you can eat and consumed by hand. Meals are accompanied to the table by frothing tankards of ale, served by fair maidens and slightly unjust maids. With a sated stomach and funnied funny bone, the ambience probes one's imagination, channeling the Middle Ages through the ornate ceiling, wooden plates, verdigrised goblets, and the Duke and Duchess's impressively carved thrones. The atmosphere takes a turn for the steely after the meal, with a non-choreographed sword fight between fully armed and armored knights.
Medieval Madness's professional cadre of mirth-makers has plenty of experience staging scenes and making history come to life. Manager Thomas Booth received a master's degree from Yale before turning his attentions to historically minded fare and fun, and the cast includes trained magicians, actors, and a swordmistress. There's no dress code at Medieval Madness, so don't feel uncomfortably self-conscious if the only thing you have to wear is an anachronistic middle-Renaissance brocade doublet. If you still can't shake the shame, confess to the friar, who runs the cash bar throughout the dinner and performance. The cash bar remains open after the show.
The Alexandria Gazette gives Medieval Madness a review in shining armor:
- Expect to laugh until it hurts, eat hearty until you’re stuffed and get just a little taste of how they used to party in 15th century England… And, without a doubt, the star of the evening is the show itself featuring original comedy, singing, and even a non-choreographed, live sword fight. – Sandy Levitz Lunner
Even though the banquet hall at Medieval Madness is eternally stuck in the 15th century, its court isn't content to perform the same show forever. Every four months, the troupe updates its production of comedy and knightly combat, swapping out nods to politics and modern life as often as kings jail their favorite jesters for disobeying the fashion police. Each evening's reverie begins with a four-course meal served family style at long banquet tables. Like the show, the menu regularly rotates, though it always includes a succulent pear sauce crafted from an 800-year-old recipe, a perfect complement when drizzled over roasted meats or smeared on an opposing clan's coat of arms. Throughout the evening, guests watch on as the duke and duchess lob insults at each other and wenches break into tawdry songs.