The premise behind the Decent Chat Show is a good one, but unfortunately what I experienced didn’t even come close. In fact, having entered to see three pull-out chairs and an unfinished stage, we were somewhat predictably informed that the host was absent due to ‘traffic problems’ (she actually gestured with air-quotes). In his place, we had a stand-in comedian who was presumably hanging around and didn’t have anything better to do.
I must admit, though, that she was actually a very good host - especially because by the end of the first twenty minutes only one out of six of the guests had turned up. She had an interesting conversation with the fascinating Norman Lovett, famous for his deadpan manner and appearances in Red Dwarf, sharing stories about their experiences of show-business. Later on the cast of Hindsight popped in and though they were there to plug the play, they were more than happy to discuss their own lives as actors, playwrights, fathers and so on.
In fact, once everyone was there, the chat was both informative and amusing and I was engaged throughout. However, the ‘show’ did not fulfil its own brief to any measure at all. While it was fascinating to hear the story of when Lovett supported the Clash, I felt rather cheated out of the ‘show/interview/debate format’ that I was promised by the event description and nothing that was talked about cut ‘to the heart of what’s happening to our nation, our government, our institutions and our festivals.’
The fact that there was evidently no original design for the show to follow also seems to suggest that things could easily go awry. At no point were we offered a theme to consider, or any structure to follow. If the host had had to contend with just one duff guest, as is so often the case with these things, the whole thing could have easily descended into awkward panic. Pure chance, then, that I witnessed a pretty stimulating chat. But that was it: a chat. If I were you, I wouldn’t leave it to chance.