First two nights, Hastings

The first night was terrific: the show went well and the audience were delightful: warm and very enthusiastic. All 1066 of them (the capacity of the Hastings theatre… See what they did?) sprung to their feet and were brilliant throughout, despite me confusing my own crew by getting a couple of bits round the wrong way. Tonight’s show was much fun, marred only by a couple of props that decided to do their own thing or fall apart.

Spent yesterday afternoon in the delightful Cafe des Artes, a gorgeous art gallery and cafe in Hastings which turned out to be run as part of a major Autistic trust. Some of the staff are autistic, and clearly the job is designed to be of great assistance to them, as part of a planned programme designed by the trust. I got talking to one of the women who runs it: a lovely lady called Lisa who used to be a magician’s assistant at the circus in a female magic act. There are very few magiciennes nowadays, and even fewer during her circus years. So she’s a magician’s-assistant-turned-careworker. An excellent lady.

I did a tiny on-film thing for their latest awareness project, which I’m sure will be on YouTube at some point. And clearly the programme works well: I spoke after the show to a delightful chap called Anthony who had a job at the cafe as part of living and working with with his own autism. Quite fascinating, and lovely to come across the project.

Today was spent visiting some great friends who live in an ex-church in Folkestone. After months of working exceptionally hard, it was amazing to sit in the sun, with wonderful people, play with their toddler Scarlett and eat a splendid lunch. Brilliantly, she made chocolate crucifixes for pudding. Get that.

A really lovely start to the tour. The wonderful weather helps as we weave around the coastline. Thank you Hastings, you’ve kicked us off royally and forgiven a few minor glitches.
Bournemouth next.

Off we go

Last night in Chatham, after a gruelling packing up of the show. The in-house crew: Graeme, Neil, Chris, Pete, Frank, Alec were all just excellent. Thank you, guys.

Currently sat in the Ramada hotel (where I arrived to find a fresh poo in my toilet. No paper in there with it, mind.) Have ordered pizza for us all. Tomorrow, off to Hastings. The show feels up to speed, though I was a little under-energy tonight.

Thank you anyone out there for supporting the show in previews.

Two Days In

First two preview days in Chatham have passed without death or injury. The first night, astonishingly, provoked a standing ovation, despite the fact that I felt the first half went pretty terribly. We’d all been concerned about whether the second half would play well, and confident about the first: the surprising outcome for us was that it was the first that needed the most attention. Things that you imagine will be inherently fun just fall a bit flat, or take too long; you realise that segments are too wordy or bits need to be re-arranged to create the strongest impact. So we cut out some pieces, tightened others, and made a whole load of changes. The second night was better, though my balding headlet got confused over some of the changes and left a few bits shoddier than I would have liked. Such is the nature of previews, and the audience get to see a work in progress, which has its own pleasures. 

I don’t want to mention any specifics from the show, so please, if you’ve seen it, please please don’t talk publically about the content either. I’m very careful in pre-tour interviews, despite journalists’ wearying insistence, not to give anything away that happens in the show (partly because we make so many changes late, but mainly because I want to preserve the surprises). So I hope you’ll join in with that as we go along and more of you see it. There are a few more previews left and then Wednesday the official first night kicks off in Hastings. That’s Hastings, which I royally frigged off last year by having to cancel when I couldn’t speak. At least this year they’ll get a reasonably fresh voice.