After the raucous delights of Northern audiences, it was down South to a very different sort of place. Again, the energy of the city was reflected in the audience, which is always so interesting: this time quiet and attentive, quite different from the previous nights. I spoke about this with a lovely couple who come to see the show a lot, back at the hotel over post-show booze and soup. The lady, a resident of Milton Keynes, insightfully pointed out that as a new town, MK has no real sense of community, no generation of people having grown up there, and correspondingly there was no sense of the audience as a solid, living entity in the same way there is in, say, Sunderland or Edinburgh where we had recently played. Instead, I felt, the MK crowd were (thankfully) polite and awaited their cues from me: a ‘vertical’ line of communication with little happening between them: little ‘horizontally’, as it were.
Acoustically the room held back a lot of the reactions too, so all in all the first night was a slight culture shock. The second night, as happens, felt warmer (in part, it was, and in part I had got used to the room). The nights were a pleasure to play, and volunteers were bright and fun. I have though been lulled into enjoying attentive and courteous audiences: tonight I am in Belfast, where once again there is a rich and powerful sense of community (or perhaps more strictly, communities), and much more tendency to heckle (not that I get much of that). Doubtless I’ll have a little shock again, and then tomorrow I shall ride it with ease.
I have spent the afternoon with a couple of talented friends from the mentalism world (Belfast’s David Meade and Toronto’s Thomas Baxter), chatting in part about some of the magnificently awful ways the medium Doris Stokes would garner information about her audience. Friendships with some of her touring party yielded some juicy secrets.
I must leave for the Waterfront. The crew have been there all day putting up the show in this massive concert hall: perhaps not aesthetically the best environment for the show, but a great room and a lovely in-house crew. If you’re coming tonight, I can’t wait to see you.