Before each performance of The Price of Everything, I have a little routine. Aside from the bit about putting on a fresh pair of socks just before the show, it involves me enumerating all the things that scare me about the pending performance. Big audience, small audience, culturati, styx: there's no audience that doesn't have the potential to be a little daunting. If it wasn't, I somehow wouldn't be doing my job properly. I have to take you seriously as people who want to have a good time or I'll be slapdash and lazy.
Then after spending a bit of time with all these anxieties, I say to myself, right. I'm going to enjoy this. And I do. Mostly, so do the audience.
Edinburgh is particularly big and scary. I've done the show about twenty times, to audiences of between forty and five hundred, to audiences packed with members of arts council staff, to an audience entirely constituted of promoters, to audiences largely composed of my extended family, to houses full and half-empty and once, memorably, to an audience of five hundred academics in a banqueting hall. Each of them, in prospect, has seemed like the toughest audience ever.
Now that's how Edinburgh seems. I started getting nervous two or three days ago, and it may last the whole month. A hardcore theatre-going crowd, national press, promoters daily. Eesh. Twenty times in a row.
But actually, you're lovely, aren't you?
I'm going to enjoy this.
Pessimism of the Intellect, Optimism of the Will