Anyone with a blended family knows how hard it is to unite one group, let alone bolt-on extended loved ones. This a task I am always keen on – my brother’s ‘Brady Bunch’ are a delight – the ‘new’ nephews and nieces are gorgeous and I enjoy their company and I really don’t get to see them enough! So any chance to coerce, encourage a union and get meetups in the diary, is welcome in my books.
But as every parent knows a group experience, that pleases all ages and attitudes is a rare beast… and one to jump on and harness if found…
I have to admit The Soul of Shaolin was not a name that was immediately recognised when I tried to convince the group to go but the premise of the show certainly did – think ‘China’s Got Talent’, take a hanky, and you’re there.
My brother’s tribe has settled just outside of London while my family have stuck to the city centre, you’d think we’d meet more often… but we don’t. Classic in all families – once you’ve added factored in ballet, football, jujitsu and so many more things I’d never heard of – let alone spell, it makes organising additional gatherings as near impossible as getting an audience with the Queen!
Plus unlike the royal family, we are on a budget, so finding a venue that’s near all of us, that has rail and road access with parking for quick exits, amenities nearby, with a show on that’s good for all ages, and affordable, could be a tall order for this bit of extra fun. Madness I know, but I am a persistent optimist as well as an ardent auntie.
Soul of Shaolin, therefore, became a real-life unicorn of opportunities. A new venue, Troubadour Theatre Wembley Park, was in an area we’d all managed to congregate in before for birthdays and more.
We met in the car park, just right off the tube, three stops from NW1 like it was some furtive ransom exchange! Just five minutes later, the new nephew and I were sitting in our seats with drinks and snacks – having been to the loo, scoured the merchandise, and allowed time to get lost (senior moments!).
The absolute dynamism of the cast, music and sets made me so glad that I wasn’t sitting there alone with my mother…How incredible it was to be sat five rows away from the stage on a Saturday matinee show with my nephew who was munching on his second bag of snacks happily while absorbed in the action. High five!
We were sat alongside many other extended families of mixed ages so I feel so lucky that I got to have some special moments with the great nine-year-old chap that is Thomas. He enjoyed watching kids his own age on stage, being amazed at the masters of craft, and experiencing such talent – it all reflected in his review on the show, that he’d happily “exchange fifty of his precious ‘Match’ magazines” to be there in those seats. (The chocolate popcorn had nothing to do with it!)
The whole performance was an all-kicking, all-dancing masterclass filled with stunning visuals and music and I have to admit that the story of a young boy fighting his way back back to the family he thought he’d lost really tugged at the heartstrings.
I overheard one mum behind me described the experience as great for ‘seat fidgeters’ – as the 4pm show was mainly packed with kids and families – free to munch, crunch, clap and importantly see! This was an intimate seating area designed for all sizes, with no bad seats and a clear view of the stage. It was such a great backdrop, and had clever use of sound, special effects, pathos and action. A standing ovation from parents was testimony.
For me, trips like these are more than just a chance to see a new show; it’s a way to bond with the family before we go our separate ways, be it my kids who are going off to uni soon or the extended family whom I don’t get to see enough of. To my nephew now I’m not just the person that you say ‘Hi’ to at gatherings and then ask your parents “who was that who just hugged me again?”, I’m the cool aunt that gave them great memories, which is priceless.
- Highly recommended
- Content 5/5
- Awesome skills with a touching story
- Venue 5/5
- Modern, clear view of stage, easy in & good stock fast bar – (great tea selection)
- Access 5/5
- From home to seat in a blink
Regrets? Only that we’d not got there earlier to see more of Wembley. There was so much going on there – concerts, shops, plus tons of cafes and activities.