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  • Review by john Murray

Tea With Mr Jenner’s *****5 stars

Jenner’s store in Edinburgh is an institution. It still seems lavish and prestigious today standing out like a Harrod’s among mass production outlets. An insight into the story behind Scotland’s oldest department store is back at the Fringe this year as Tea With Mr Jenner invites us to an audience with Mr Jenner, played by Sandy Queenan in store, in character and live in the shop itself. Limited to just 10 round the table in the original boardroom on the fourth floor we gain an insight to what has gone before.

So here we are in the wood panelled boardroom of this iconic institution, a cherished setting and a rarity for a Fringe event more used to tents, bunkers and warm attics

You see Charles Jenner was a real person and his story is historically correct and an insight as to this magnificent store all came about. We hear of his humble drapery business in Leith, his home life and how the business developed. Afternoon tea was exquisite and with numerous top ups from waitress Miss MacDonald (played by Hannah Collins) we had time to hear of her story too and how the employees in 19th century Edinburgh spent their day. As expected the food on offer was top fayre; daintily cut square sandwiches with various fillings, fresh scones with cream and preserves followed by tartlets and macaroons. To finish a new confection according to Mr Jenner – Edinburgh Rock.

Attention to detail was notable from the Wedgewood china crockery, Arthur Price Silverware to the wind-up gramophone playing when we entered the room. The stories were colourful and interesting and delivered with good humour and character from both the cast. The intimacy of the setting all helped, the ambience of the surroundings (and Scotts Monument view) was unique and the audience enjoyed a pleasant experience in good company along with the finery of afternoon tea.

Mr Jenner himself would have approved.

Valvona &Crolla at Jenners till Aug 24 (not 18) at 13:00 & 15:30

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