Sometimes when I suggest a family outing to my husband, I’m expecting to have to sell it. Not so with Bus King Theatre’s Christmas 2017 show, The Present Predicament. Puppets! On a restored Routemaster bus! Nothing more needed, he was on board (yes, I like the puns okay).
What’s it all about?
The Present Predicament tells the story of a put-upon man who doesn’t know what to get his wife for Christmas. His wife is pretty narky, so he’s a bit stressed about the whole thing. She doesn’t like much, but she does like hamsters. Unfortunately, the man (didn’t take note of his name, whoops) can’t afford to buy a hamster from a pet shop. In desperation, he turns to the next best thing – a London sewer rat. Yep. Naturally, he doesn’t just present his wife with a rat out of a sewer because that would be silly. He gives the rodent a makeover involving bleach and perfume and a blow dry and transforms the rat into Humphrey the Hamster. The hamster is a hit with the Missus and you’d think that would be the end of the dudes problems but you’d be wrong. I’ll leave it at that but what follows is a weird kind of love/hate dynamic between the man and Humphrey. There are some images from this show that will remain with me for a long, long time. One of which was a giant rat poo which had the older children in the audience shrieking with laughter. No pictures of the performance were allowed because the puppets were shy, apparently, but there are images up on the Bus King website now if you want to get a look at Humphrey. You won’t regret it.
Pea remained oddly focused for the majority of the performance, only getting mildly twitchy towards the end. If I’m honest, I’m glad that Pea is too young to really understand what was going on as I wouldn’t have fancied trying to explain to him that its best not to befriend a wild rat. His Dad and I however couldn’t help but be completely charmed and entertained by the deliciously macabre story (it didn’t end well for Humphrey). There was an additional workshop after the show but we didn’t book that as it seemed a little too advanced for Pea. The interior of the bus was has a lovely vintage feel and and was very cosy. Seating was carefully managed to ensure everyone got a decent view of all the action (“Children in front of children and grown ups in front of grown ups).
This was certainly one of our more memorable activities and I’d definitely consider booking another performance if it weren’t for the whole leaving London thing.
Where/When is it?
Spitalfields Market. The Present Predicament has been and gone now but shows appear to be seasonally based so if you dig this kind of thing keep an eye on the website for future performances. We attended the performance on 23rd December.
The lovely lady in charge will store your buggy on the top deck of the bus or chain it up outside for you (remember the rain cover). As it’s at Spitalfields market there are numerous options for a pre-show coffee or refreshment after. I don’t know if there’s baby change facilities at the market as, owing to Pea evacuating his bowels in spectacular fashion moments before we needed to leave the house that morning, we were not seeking them out on that particular day. Liverpool Street station is just a few minutes away and has a bum changing facilities.