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.