EDINBURGH 2019: BWW Review: WE APOLOGISE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE, PQA Venues @ Riddle's Court
Douglas Adams, beloved writer of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was notoriously terrible at sticking to deadlines. Perennially quotable, he claimed to love "the whooshing sound they make as they go by".
While George R. R. Martin may have taken over the crown of being famous for writing at a snail's pace, Adams' struggles with the weight of expectation his success placed on him left him chronically unable to finish his later works in a timely fashion.
The premise of Room 5064's short play, We Apologise For The Inconvenience, imagines Adams, late once again in submitting a manuscript, locked in a hotel room by his publisher until he finishes the series' fourth outing; the book that would be released as So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish.
Between endless baths, Adams (Adam Gardiner) tries to expound on anything but his novel, even as his fertile imagination runs wild, bringing sentience to his Rubber Duck (Rob Stuart-Hudson). Stuart-Hudson serves as his conscience, imagined foil and the reminder of so many talented writers to whom Adams cannot help but compare himself.
It is evident that Mark Griffiths' script is a very affectionate take on Douglas Adams and his most famous works. All of the subtle (and not so subtle) references are there - dressing gown, towel, the number 42, not to mention well-realised animations by Andrew Orton that bookend the show in the style of the wonderful TV adaptation.
It aptly picks up on Adams' place within a particular strand of comedy, with acknowledging nods to Wodehouse and the Pythons. If the punchlines were a tad over-telegraphed, the audience, evidently familiar with the Adams canon, delighted in the various jokes and references.
Both performances are suitably energetic, with plenty of visual comedy well-executed under the direction of Ross Kelly. The duo of Gardiner and Stuart-Hudson quickly build up a quick-fire rapport to good comic effect across Adams' flights of fancy and the resulting duck-based psychoanalysis.
Around halfway through this performance, however, the verbal fencing between the pair was disrupted by the telltale wailing of the venue's fire alarm. The production crew and staff at PQA Venues @ Riddle's Court took the famous advice of the eponymous guide and didn't panic, quickly ushering both audience and cast to the safety of the Royal Mile.
Far from being a bother, it provided quite possibly the most ironically amusing moment of the Fringe. It was a testament to the enjoyment of the audience that there were immediate waggish comments about the meta-theatrical lengths to which Adams would go to procrastinate, though burning down his hotel seemed a little drastic.
Luckily, despite the quick turnarounds demanded of Fringe shows, the show was able to finish after a delay of about 15 minutes. In a spot of being marvellously on brand, venue staff announcing the recommencement added: "Ironically, we apologise for the inconvenience".
Those not having to rush off other shows were vocally enthusiastic to see the end, and while the play has now finished its Edinburgh dates, any future performances will likely delight fans of the Hitchhiker's Guide series. Knowledge of Adams' works is not necessary to follow the play, but sci-fi fans who like their androids paranoid and their towels close at hand will thoroughly enjoy this.
From This Author Amy Hanson
Amy Hanson is an Edinburgh-based director and drama teacher. Her theatrical interests range from anything that shouts about politics to the cheesiest of musical theatre. (read more...)
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