As the theatre world continues to be a fairly unpredictable beast, having a flexible show such as Just Like That! The Tommy Cooper Show or Summer Winos means that, technically, the production can tour to any size or type of performance space. That's the glory of it, I suppose, that you can take these joyful pots of mirth to varying audiences and communities up and down the country. But what really makes a difference is when the venue shows an equal amount of resourcefulness, as we experienced last weekend.
We were at the Elgiva Theatre in Chesham. The venue manager, David, had held out for our show. He liked the look of it, knew his demographic and yet the show struggled to pull together a sizeable audience. Everything from Brexit to Easter was blamed, but the fact was that we only had a couple of dozen people pre-booked for the show.
Both the aforementioned productions rely upon a certain degree of intimacy. The Summer Winos show plays out as a quintessentially British chat over a cuppa, a presentation screen and a tin of biscuits being handed around. Our flagship Tommy Cooper show is routed in the history of Tommy's theatrical career, which saw Tommy playing various cabaret clubs up and down the country, to audiences of 50-200. Although we've taken both productions to 400-600 seaters, the show is just at home, if not more so, in more modest surroundings.
On this occasion, however, the Elgiva proved just too daunting a room. However, David had the matter in hand. The stage was able to house both an audience of 50 seats and our relatively minimalist set. The audience were expectedly bewildered to be mounting the steps from the auditorium onto the stage to take their seats, but there was something equally whimsical about it that I know Tommy himself would've loved. Thanks to the determination, professionalism and the ethical idea that these people had parted with their money and were looking forward to a night of laughs at the theatre, everyone pulled together to produce the show in the best environment possible. The night was a success. Resourcefulness. See?