It's the morning after the night before, and all the revellers out at London's Troxy last night are waking, not to sore heads, dry mouths and an extortionate babysitting fee, but sore calves, hoarse throats and the best breakfast table chit chat since Santa came to visit. Future Cinema's immersive take on cult film Bugsy Malone has come to town, and it would be a challenge of monumental proportions to find a better Easter activity for the whole family, even if a vat of Easter chocolate accompanied it.
Alan Parker's charming gangster movie, with cast made up entirely of under 15s, strikes the perfect balance between relating to the younger members of the audience, without ever alienating the adults: many may have grown up watching this cinematic gem, but if you've never seen it before, it's impossible not to be utterly charmed by the delicious mix of knowingness and utter innocence in each of Parker's characters.
But the real attraction of this event isn't the film itself. Future Cinema's objective to create 'living, breathing experiences of cinema' is realised with stylish flair, sassy panache and sparkling efficiency. A mixture of up-close-and-personal improvisation, interactive multimedia and set performances transport the audience to an utterly convincing, scarily accurate world of gangsters, custard pies and diva flappers. Add to the magical mixture an audience dressed head-to-toe in 1920s regalia, singing along at the top of their voices, and cheering for the eponymous hero, and the auditorium is positively fizzing with film fervour.
Future Cinema is on the brink of launching Future Kids, a sideline to Future Cinema dedicated exclusively to entertaining the oft-neglected younger generation of filmgoers. Normally inundated with brainless franchises and vampire fangs, this is an audience whose tastes are severely underestimated. Bugsy Malone makes for the perfect experiment for this formula: wander to the back of the auditorium, and your wee ones can get their hands on exquisitely decorated milkshakes, merrily striped paper bags of sweeties (with a welcome lack of multiplex price tag), bagatelle boards and wandering showgirls ready to amp up the all-inclusive magic. The jazz club-style set up means attention spans don't even have to last the whole film either- the genius behind this production is in its freedom- how much of the film and its surrounding opportunities you indulge in is entirely up to you (particularly handy after the second bottle of vino, or when the E-numbers make it to your small charge's bloodstream).
There are moments of weakness in the performance: while the acting (and accents) were nearly always spot-on, and charming to boot, some of the set dance pieces left a little wanting- a slap-dash duo left a little to be technically desired, and the choreographed accompaniment to Born to Be a Dancer even left my twelve year old companion perplexed at whether she was dancing or not. Yet, to pick holes in this largely wonderful production feels almost petty- if you're not looking for faults, you probably won't find them.
Bugsy Malone is running for the remainder of the Easter holidays, with afternoon matinees geared up specifically for kids; forget taking the family to another generic Hollywood movie, with emaciated stars, ill-conceived concepts and condiments that break the bank. You'd have to be mad to go within spitting distance of a multiplex with this enchanting world of all-encompassing cine-magic on offer... and you get to custard pie your parents.