Future Cinema presents Bugsy Malone
It was eleven o’clock and the evening was tapping down at Fat Sam’s. The girls were beautiful, the music was hot and the drinks were smooth. My friends and I were enjoying the hospitality when suddenly the pies started flying.
Great entertainment and terrible Italian-American accents galore at the Troxy, East London, where Future Cinema’s latest fusion of film and cabaret brings jazz-age fun right from the 1920′s. Running from now until mid-April, “Bugsy Malone – A Live Cinema Experience” follows from the incredible interactive success of Secret Cinema, with membership now in the tens of thousands. Cheap and completely unpredictable, new ventures are beginning to show drama, action and magic is beginning to spark in the audience, not just on the screen.
London was searched high and low for the few dusky corners that resemble prohibition Chicago.
The night begins in the dark avenues outside the Troxy. As my friend comments, London was searched high and low for the few dusky corners that resemble prohibition Chicago. “Mind the cars darlin’, we wouldn’t wants ya to get hurt,” calls the actress with the boa as we join the back of the queue. No-one’s getting past without a trip to the barber. Some pencil slits for the upper lip, and what can only be described as a maniacal combing for my poor attempt at a side parting. The acting doesn’t stop when you get into the theatre. Circular tables and centre-pieces fill the lower hall that’s surrounded by popcorn, cocktails and gambling stalls, with the stage is backlit green as two girls in sequinned dresses tap-dance. You can’t quite believe it when a burly stranger recruits us to Fat Sam’s Gang and equips us with a balloon Tommy Gun. Even more unbelievable is when Dandy Dan himself (although a little older) accosts us. “You’re with me now, ya got it?” We got it.
As the room fills out, the cabaret goes on. Somewhere in between the dancing, the singing, the jazz band and the boxing match, the man himself, Bugsy, sidles up to our table. “Hey Tommy. Tommy!! Good to see ya, man. Where ya been? Anyways good t’ see ya. You still owe fifty buck.” How do you answer that? The elated confusion and bewilderment is beyond palpable, and before you know it you’ll be slipping into calling your friends “Knuckles” and “Snake-Eyes”, and girls “broads” – sorry “Bwords”. The lights dim and the screen comes down. The evening becomes even more odd as a brilliant little silent nugget, TWO-GUN GUSSIE, with live accompaniment, introduces the main feature. The piano player told us she was worried. “The phrase, “Don’t shoot the piano player” – that don’t mean much any more!” Finally the show begins.
To a ten-year-old, a 1920s musical featuring gangsters played by kids with custard bullets somehow doesn’t seem fantastical.
What you don’t remember about BUGSY MALONE as a kid, between the car chases and the pies, is just how daring Alan Parker’s debut feature is. To a ten-year-old, a 1920s musical featuring gangsters played by kids with custard bullets somehow doesn’t seem fantastical. Every song is sung, and even the appearance of Tallulah (who, by the way, is much more awkward to watch if you’re older than 14) is greeted with a cheer. Yet as great as the film is, you can’t help thinking the room is holding its breath. All it takes is one small, outpost table at the back to don its ponchos for the clear plastic wave to wash across the room.
The rest of the evening is a kind of pie-based chaos, as grown men and women spend a good twenty minutes attempting to knock the trilbies off complete strangers. You’d think the staff would be tired off the nightly foam fights by now; but no, Dandy Dan and his gang are right in the middle, chucking and spraying with the best. Everyone descends to the kid gangsters they’re emulating, until the staff decide to let the music break it up with the BLUES BROTHERS soundtrack. Damn, I forgot my shades. For those who don’t enjoy a good 60s disco that might be the time to leave. Needless to say my dancing embarrassed me, but it wouldn’t take much to do better. Crazy and perfect, take it from me personally – sorry, pwoisonally.
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