Ye Gods. There is no worse combination than a rustic venue and hot weather. Back to the Old Queens for not one but two shows on a stinking hot night. A feeble fan in a corner and a jumbo jet-sized room packed with people under a corrugated iron roof. Did I say it was hot? Oh my, oh my!
The first show was a bit flakey - unneven. Made worthwhile by a singer-songwriter with the most original and witty absurdist songs. A genre all of his own, almost. I always get a charge when I encounter fresh talent. But I was so weak with the heat I felt quite faint. Vile. Sucking down water but it seemed not to refresh at all, only to make me feel full of water, bloated, like a hot water bottle.
I tottered back to the office in the hour between shows and tried to cool down in the airconditioning while writing a review - and then braved the heat again for the second one, still feeling rotten with an incipient heat headache. It could only be an hour long, I reassured myself. I will get through it. I took a hand fan I keep in the drawer for festivals. Smart move.
Arriving at the theatre it was to be told the show would start late - first 10 minutes, then 15. It started 25 minutes late. 25 hot minutes late. And there we were packed that vile performance space steaming together. I was rather popular with those around me. The air from my fan was cooling everyone in the row. But I was still melting. Then my colleague, Jamie, did an amazing thing. He slipped a bottle of cold water down the back of my seat where it started to cool my boiling back...and then, miraculously, revive me - enough to be annoyed at the delays.
It's not the performer's fault, said a caring tech, worried to see the critic frowning. No, it is the organisation's fault. Messy programming. The delay was caused by an adjoining performance running late.
As it happened, the show and its bright young performer had the goods to save the day. It wasn't bad at all. Although I was still damned glad to get out of that hideous performance space. Remind me to refuse any gigs there in future, will you!