A lot of us say, yes, the show's very informal – I talk to the audience a lot – so a pub setting will be perfect.
We are a bit wrong to say that.
Well firstly, by doing a show in a pub you're surrendering control over some of the decisions you've made about its design. If there's almost nothing on stage, a black box studio means no distractions from the few things you have chosen to put up there. In a pub, there are all these other things to look at. The carpets will almost certainly clash with whatever you bring. That's what pub carpets do. By contrast, if there's a huge kitchen in your show, its insistent kitchen-ness will get into a fight with the insistent pub-ness of the pub. Naturalism isn't going to work, that is, unless - oh fortune! - the show is set in a pub.
Secondly, the setting of a pub expects informality. It's a pub. Formality would be a jolt. In a conventional theatre space, on the other hand, informality has more surprise value. In a pub, good examples of such work can easily be left looking like there's no craft on display at all.
But there are important ways in which that's a good thing. It was three or four years of theatre-going before I stopped being intimidated by even the friendliest of theatre buildings. Too many of my earliest theatrical experiences were when I was eighteen or nineteen and in the company of fellow students from Tunbridge Wells, who'd been brought up on visits to the National and the Barbican. They breezed through the foyer of the West Yorkshire Playhouse like it was normal. They ate olives, and distinguished between wines. It was terrifying.
On the other hand, they were far less comfortable in pubs than I was. Pork scratchings and pool were more my area. If you'd offered me somewhere I could watch the plays I craved and thrash everyone at pool? Yes please.
That's why its worth pretty much any amount of aesthetic compromise.
All of which is by way of saying, I'm excited to be doing The Price of Everything in a pub next month (Leicester, March 22nd). How shall I deal with the challenges? Should I cultivate an excessive formality, and wear a suit? Should I bring a kitchen sink into which to pour my milk?
Should I just forget about it and do the show as normal? Yes, probably that. I'll let you know how it goes.
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will