Sunspots: Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival, October 13th

From the north to the south and an intriguing new venue: Bournemouth's Natural Science Society. This beautiful Italianate Victorian building is crammed with cabinets full of shells, skulls, skeletons and all manner of natural wonders: the kind of things my Sun likes to take credit for: "I made the cats./I make the snow."


In fact, just to the left of the shot above is an actual sarsen stone, which ties in quite neatly with some lines from the show. It's not every venue that goes to such lengths to make us feel at home:

You shifted sarsens
and angled temples
at me.

Now you point
your furniture
at the TV.

A sarsen stone, recently.

A sarsen stone, recently.

The biggest difference between this venue and all the others so far is that I was performing on a shallow raised stage, made for scientific lectures rather than theatre pieces. I knew this would separate me significantly from the audience and possibly alter the tone of the show a little but the screen and the imported PA system and our use of portable and handheld lights created the right atmosphere.

The society's own website admits: '...a frequent comment from visitors to our public events and open days is, “We have lived in Bournemouth for 30 years and didn’t know you existed!"' so I was a little worried about audience numbers – especially after Manchester – but we had a pretty decent turnout. 

There were a few very young children in the audience and I was worried about how some of the bleaker, nastier moments would go down but they seemed relatively untraumatised by the end. One highlight was the classic mobile phone going off in the middle of a dark, intense sequence, presaging the familiar panicky fumbling to find it and shut it off. It turns out that it belonged to the mother of a friend who'd been persuaded to make the trip from Dorchester: "My daughter is mortified! She might never talk to me again!"

The happy end to this tale is that the 'offender' gave me and Tom an unexpected lift to the station where we managed to nip onto an earlier train, saving us almost two hours and a cab journey from Waterloo. Sometimes it's these small mercies that make the night.

Thank you Bournemouth for your support, your sarsen and all the lovely, bleached, bony critters.

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