We have been living in Wanstead for near on three years, but it turns out I still know very little of what we have on offer in our local community (outside of the Larder of course), as it was on Coco’s first day at her lovely little pre-school Lakeside, that we were offered tickets to the Big Red Bath at Redbridge Drama Centre.
Not only had I not heard of Julia Jarman’s children’s story, Big Red Bath, but I had also never heard of the Redbridge Drama Centre, so I was going into this as a true novice. Huddled next to Churchfields Primary School in South Woodford, Redbridge Drama Centre is a perfectly packaged little theatre, with a small bar and seating area for drinks and snacks. To cater for the smaller than average audience, they had laid out crayons and pictures for colouring and had made sure there was ample space for buggies. Something I wished I had known before I arrived, as I may have rethought the car park picnic and the mad dash through the rain carrying not one, but two children, plus usual baby/toddler provisions including the kitchen sink. You can imagine my delight when, sans make-up and post sweaty, rainy run, the pre-school decided to take photos for their newsletter!
The auditorium is cosy but perfect for kids and especially those who are experiencing their first theatre visit. Following an ill thought out trip to another children’s show involving dancing bugs and insects, Coco was a little scared prior to the performance starting, but it’s testament to the Big Red Bath’s brilliance (and a pack of smarties) how quickly this was forgotten.
A collaboration from companies Full House and Half Moon, the show begins introducing the audience to Ben and Bella as their parents perform the nightly routine of bath time before bed. It is here that the magical, bubbly adventure begins as special bath time animal friends come and join in the fun, including dog, duck, lion, giraffe and even hippopotamus! Thanks to the fantastic acting, dancing, and music featured in the show, the kids were captivated from the start. Even my seven month old sat still and watched the show without too much wriggling, clearly enjoying the bright lights and music. I have to give a special mention to Ben Miles who plays Dad / Lion / Giraffe etc. I’m sure this is true of most parents, but I have a slight aversion to children’s performers, so the fact he was able to entice several smiles and more than one giggle from me was a lovely surprise. Coco was eagerly chatting and pointing out the animals throughout, a much more animated reaction than I had seen at previous theatre visits. Even seeing Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom at the Hackney Empire didn’t evoke such excitement, which is quite something considering she was unfamiliar with the story beforehand. There were opportunities to meet the actors, buy the book, and have your pic taken in the Big Red Bath at the end of the performance, which was a lovely touch, although sadly Coco decided this was her moment to become camera shy.
Unfortunately there are no more showings of the Big Red Bath at Redbridge Drama Centre, however you can book tickets now for showings at the Half Moon Theatre in Tower Hamlets on 1st – 6th July here – http://www.halfmoon.org.uk
For information regarding the rest of the tour please visit – http://fullhouse.org.uk/whats
Top tips for future visits to Redbridge Drama Centre:
- Parking is a bugger. Churchfields is normally packed so other options are the pay & display car parks either next to Tesco Express or the car park at South Woodford library. I opted for the library and next time I will keep my fingers crossed for sun! (If anyone knows of any other options, please shout!)
- In the event of having to do a little walk, use your buggy. The drama centre had provided plenty of space to park them
- I’m not sure how they would feel if I had set up my picnic in the bar area, but there was lots of space to sit and have snacks so make the most of it
- To find out about future performances at Redbridge Drama Centre, please visit redbridgedramacentre.co.uk – I have already signed up for their newsletter and looking forward to our next visit!
Let me know when you’re next heading to the theatre with your family!