Thursday, July 26, 2012

Christchurch Mansion Day 1

Good King Hal showing selected photographers how to hold Katherine Howard up when she's had a tad too much of the old "Meado Collapso".

IPSWICH!  GATEWAY TO THE EAST!  My lingering memories of Ipswich, should anyone feel the urge to ask, were Mick Mills, Bobby Robson, Tolly Cobbold brewing and Trevor Whymark's sideburns.  So if you step outside of football and beer, not a lot has been going on there.  I THOUGHT.  How wrong I was, of course.  I had been booked to appear at Christchurch Mansion months ago, but of course, being the suave idiotic Tudor about town, I had never bothered to actually check out where the hell I was going to be performing.  So a couple of days ago, I looked up Christchurch Mansion on Google - wow.  You should do the same.  It is impressive, but if you think the on line effect is good, try checking out the actual place.  This is truly a gem of the British Isles, overlooked and underexposed, and packed to the rafters with treasures.  So get yourself down there and check it out.
I drove up from Basildon this morning in searing summer heat, listening to the classic Robin Bailey version of Peter Tinniswood's brilliant "Tales from a Long Room" and laughing like a drain at the cricket-world humour.  I arrived at the grounds of Christchurch Park and Mansion, and was amazed again by this wonderful red brick Tudor edifice.  I was greeted by Shelley from the Museum Service and made very welcome.  She toured me round the whole building, showing me the wonderful Constable paintings, the Gainsborough's and even some Matisse, Renoir and Picasso.  Astounding.
I did two shows today - Henry's Horrid History again, with a show at 1.30pm and another at 3pm.  The 1.30pm show was packed out - there just weren't enough seats for all the people who wanted to get in and enjoy the show, so many of the children ended up sitting on the floor, but I got a great response from the group.  When I chose a lovely lady from the audience to be my Anne Boleyn for a decapitation, she was saved from her fate when her 18 month old daughter toddled up on to the stage and cuddled her.  How could I lop her noggin off after that?  After the show I had a lovely lunch sitting in the court yard out the back of the building. Superb.
The second show was a disappointment - only about 10 people turned up, and one lady sat in the back row openly breast feeding a baby, something guaranteed to knock you off your stride when trying to remember what to say next in a show.
But all in all, an absolutely fabulous first day at Christchurch Mansion and I can't wait to get back tomorrow for the second day.  See you there?

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