Thursday, 3 March 2016

Non communication

We stood at Highgate tube for twenty minutes this afternoon waiting for a train to arrive. We kept hearing the same message, namely that a "non-communicative train" at Finchley Central was causing delays. I wondered how a non-communicative train would manifest itself. An angry driver with all communication lines switched off, driving through countless stations at top speed whilst its passengers screamed and banged the windows in terror? Fortunately it turned out to be a storm in a teacup. Perhaps the faulty train was taken out of service. Or maybe the driver decided to start communicating again.

None of the Northern Line trains were going via Charing Cross, so we got a Bank train and changed at Camden where the tannoy announcements immediately sent us to the wrong platform. Huge swathes of confused-looking people were running up and down the steps doing the Camden hop like a scene from a comedy disaster movie. Meanwhile, LU Underground staff saw fit to run the somewhat incendiary message, "ladies and gentlemen, there is a good service operating on all London Underground lines" on a loop. We almost missed the start of the matinee!

The matinee audience was small but hugely vocal and laughed loudly at every joke. It was a friendly crowd as well. Mid week matinees are often the shows which industry people come to. Jake and Pippa were there. Abbie came for the second time. My friend Lisa from Chichester sat just behind us and chortled fondly. The joy about having mixed reviews is that people who have read them come in with low expectations which are then blown away!

We sat with Llio and Abbie in the little coffee bar at the theatre in the break between shows and took it in turns to spill stuff. Llio managed to knock a whole glass of caramel-flavoured coffee onto the table which inexplicably ended up in her hair. The nice man behind the counter gave her a refill. We obviously instantly tried to set her up with him!

The second show was clean and had a large, respectful audience, who watched politely rather than riotously, and then applauded wildly at the end. My dear friend Penny, a former Greenham woman, was in the audience. I guess out of everyone who has been to see the show, I was keenest to impress her. She was full of praise and said the scenes with arguments in them took her right back to her days on the camps. She pulled us up on the use of the word "girl," however, which was such a taboo at Greenham, that, thirty years on, it still shocked her when it was used in the show.

She thought the cast was wonderful and only took issue with our decision to feature a rather maternal older lady character. In her experience, the middle class older women in the camps tended to shy away from the maternal stereotype even when the younger women tried to thrust that particular role upon them. I thought that was an incredibly interesting observation. Of course the irony is that this particular character is one of the most popular with audiences, so the authenticity vs theatricality argument continues...

Jeremy and Jordan from the NYMT came, as did my old friend, Ash and the lovely Rob from Nathan's Royal Airforce drama groups. He's a proper techno-geek, so was just about as perfect an audient as we could have hoped to have.

There was a Q and A after the show which was very well attended. One man put his hand up to say he'd stayed for the Q and A because he'd hugely enjoyed the show, and only realised that there was a computer aspect when the conversation began. That was really heartening because it tells us that the show potentially has an audience beyond the circus of the experiment.

And if you have Sky Arts, don't forget you can see the show on telly tomorrow night. Coverage starts at 8pm with Computer Says Show, the second part of the documentary series, followed at 9pm by the broadcast of the full show, which I'm told is looking just lovely.

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