The show opens with an entertaining introduction by The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, with graphics and voiceover in the style of the 1980s TV show. It explains that Douglas Adams has been imprisoned in a hotel room by his agent, not to be released until he has completed his fourth book. The video clip contains multiple in-jokes and references that will be pleasing to Adams aficionados.
What follows is an amusing and somewhat surrealist exploration of what it means to be a successful writer. Adams talks about the displacement activity of taking a bath (with suitably acknowledged lame Archimedes joke), the difficulties of forcing creativity under pressure, the endlessly inventive but irrelevant distracting ideas and the weird and wonderful but unpredictable nature of inspiration. All this will be painfully familiar to anyone who is a writer. It’s funny because it’s true.
Just when the monologue reaches the limits of its interest value, the potential tedium is gloriously relieved by the entrance of the personification of Adams’ rubber duck, a second actor in a bright yellow tailcoat and trousers. His brash, American exuberance gives Adams plenty to play off and they make an entertaining duo. The duck is full of unwelcome truths, further portraying the difficulties faced by someone who has had big success in their field and is now dealing with the obligations and expectations that come with it. As Adams says at one point, nobody cares if you fail before you’re famous, but the stakes are that much higher when the world is watching.
Both actors are very expressive and have a lot of stage presence, though the show is more consistently amusing than laugh-out-loud funny. There is a false note late on where they make fun of science-fiction fans; it’s never a good idea to ridicule your audience. And it all rather fizzles out at the end, not really going anywhere interesting after the fun set-up.
Still, it’s an enjoyable show overall and there are probably more Douglas Adams references to catch than I managed to identify. Both actors do a good job and any aspiring writers in the audience will sympathise.