Today is my last working day of peace and space to work, think and write. The next two weeks will see me, like many working mums, sitting at my desk late into the night, trying to keep things ticking over. I'm really looking forward to having lots of fun with the children too.
It can be hard to find activities that the whole family will consider to be a treat with two teen girls and a seven-year-old with a host of special needs, not least his autism. The girls so often feel they are playing the part of adults coming along helping Wills have a great day. I make sure they have more 'grown up and girly' time with me too but what is so rare are days out all the children enjoy equally.
Last weekend we found one! On Saturday, we dressed up in our 1920s finest and went on an exciting adventure at Fat Sam's Grand Slam to meet Fat Sam, Tullulah, Blousey Brown, Dandy Dan and, of course, Bugsy Malone. Ellie was especially excited as she played Velma in Bugsy Malone during her last year at primary school so it has a very special place in her heart.
We picked up our book for the library and flower for Sam and set off by train and Dockland Light Railway, a big highlight for William, for a secret rendezvous under the bridge beside the Troxy (very close to Limehouse station).
Here, Future Cinema are bringing the much loved Bugsy Malone film to life in a very exciting way. The show starts as soon as you walk towards the Troxy. Ellie and Wills were welcomed as friends by members of the cast. Wills was a bit confused as to why he was being called 'Baby Face' and 'Billy the Kid' and made it very clear to Bugsy that he was much too young, at seven, to try boxing in the gym when invited to try out! Ellie was invited to audition as a show girl but felt a bit shy. So we passed the stage door, as well as the pedal cars and the barbers shop to the main door into Fat Sam's.
Just as in the film, we had to pass them a book to get through the secret door into the club. The cinema had been absolutely transformed. It was amazing. We sat at tables watching the dancing girls and scenes from the film being performed by the cast. Little girls dressed in flapper dresses and feathered head gear were taught dances and got to perform them on stage with Tullulah and the other show girls while boys in stripy suits and trilby hats ran around the whole venue with the gangsters and their splurge guns. The attention to details was amazing. There was a gym and casino bar to explore and the cast talked with everyone, making sure they felt part of the action.
I would recommend making a trip to Fat Sam's a big Easter treat and enjoying all the extras on offer. Pasta is available for lunch and we were disappointed we'd eaten on the way. We did indulge in ice-cream shakes, served in authentic glass jars with cream, sprinkles and old fashioned striped paper straws. I had a cream soda float, just like those my Grandma used to make, and we had a chocolate corn flake cake and huge bag of homemade popcorn - all of that for £10 so much better value than the carbonated post-mix and sugary pop corn served in commercial cinemas. It helped get into the spirit of the day to enjoy the food as if we really were in Fat Sam's with the cast. For adults, there is a full bar and 'Fat Sam's Cocktail Bar.'
After an hour and a half enjoying scenes from the film performed live, we were treated to a show reel with live piano and then it was time for the main event - the full Bugsy Malone film. If you know anything at all about this film, you will know it culminates in a total splurge fest at the end. This is a live cinematic experience so you know what's coming. As the film entered it's final scene Fat Sam ran on stage telling us we were under attack and should get our ponchos on (to be found under the tables). William hates the texture of foam and being messy so decided to hide himself under the table at this point. We were all given custard pies and the splurging commenced! Gangsters ran around spraying us with their guns and the whole audience (except William) threw their pies at each other. It was loads of fun, even when one lovely gangster decided to empty his spluge gun down my back after the main fight, when I'd taken off the waterproof!!
All in all, this was one of the best fun days out we've had in a while. The show was over three hours long in total, included a live show and the film, as well as lots of audience participation, so it is great value for money. I was concerned how William would cope with the participation, darkened room, lighting and the number of strangers close by him. He got a bit restless at times but it's fine to leave your table and walk around to see everything that is going on throughout the show and the film so it's perfect for older children who can concentrate for the film and younger children alike. Lots of little boys seemed to spend most of the afternoon running around with the gangsters with huge smiles on their faces.
Future Cinema's Bugsy Malone runs at The Troxy, near Limehoue Station, until April 14th and would be a perfect Easter Holiday Treat. Tickets are available here but be quick as some performances are sold out. The matinee's are special family shows (although there were couples with champagne on ice near us as well as groups of adults who remember the film from their childhoods and none were put off but children running around). I'm actually tempted to go back and experience the more 'adult' evening shows and swap the milkshakes for cocktails!