And so the day arrived. Not that it began well. I have been aware for some time that the biggest stress for me involved with the performance was not the performance itself, but the logistics involved with getting everyone in the right place. So when the satnav, indicating traffic problems on the M40, sent us on a tortuous journey through Buckinghamshire, and most especially and frustratingly the endless traffic lights of Wycombe, it did not make for the calmest of starts. Still, somewhat to our surprise, we arrived at West Ruislip station in time for the train, and so arrived at the designated meeting point, Wembley Central, just a minute or two late. Of course, it was still some time before the rest of the group assembled, but now at last I felt able to relax. Tickets were bought, and we travelled the four stops to Kensal Green, then the short walk to the library.
A dress rehearsal had been scheduled, and after I had been through the technical requirements with Oscar, Matilda’s son, who was operating the sound for us, we started. I had been very relaxed about the performance itself, but actually my own complacency was obviously contagious, for the performance that came was very shoddy indeed, with people finding themselves on the wrong side of stage, missing cues, and making a right mess of both Tick-Tock and the Two Queues. But it was probably necessary to jerk us into some focus and concentration. As the old saying goes (actually a quote from “Musical”, Thame Youth Theatre’s first ever show): “Dress rehearsals is supposed to go wrong. That’s what makes for a great performance!” So I gave them a bit of a rocket, agreed with Carla that Hamed would re-take his place in “Tick Tock”, and prepared ourselves for the show.
With ten minutes to go, I was a little concerned about the size of the audience; there weren’t all that many chairs, and quite a few of them were empty. But people continued to arrive, even after we had begun with the introductory comments, and in fact by the time the actual play began, every seat was taken. We even had celebrity guests, in the person of the Mayor and the leader of the council. The Mayor had warned us she would have to leave before the actual performance, but in fact she stayed – I did tell everyone in my introduction that it was a short play.
And the performance itself was very good. It was true that The Two Queues, the one sketch new to the performance, and hence the one we were least confident of, was once again a dreadful mess, but actually it scarcely mattered. As I told the cast before we started, no-one knows what i8s supposed to be happening, so provided you keep going with confidence, it will be fine. And it was.
There was a discussion with the audience after the show, which began a little awkwardly, but warmed up when three of our actors took the opportunity to express their own thoughts and feelings, as well as strong contributions from other guests, including Mr Butt, the leader of the Council. He appeared to have been quite moved by the performance (though Hamed was convinced that this was political posturing) and in general the performance was extremely well-received.
Which only left what was almost my favourite part of the day, the journey back to Wembley. Everyone was in a good mood, joking, laughing, clowning… and, of course, relaxed. It is a pleasure and a privilege to be involved with them all.