If you think that it’s important to know where your towel is, and you know the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, then I have a treat for you. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, you can feast on this infinitely improbable play about Douglas Adams, a rubber duck and deadlines that whoosh by.
A lovingly written tribute to the late Douglas Adams
In We Apologise for the Inconvenience, we meet Douglas Adams in 1984. After publishing three very successful books based on his radio series, he is desperately trying to write his fourth book of the trilogy. There is just one problem: Douglas Adams is suffering from a total writer’s block. Notoriously bad at keeping deadlines, Adams is locked in a London hotel room by his publisher and not allowed to leave until the book is finished. He hasn’t even started yet, but he will... right after another endless bath.
The cleverly written piece by Mark Griffiths uses real-life events as a starting point for his fictional portrayal of what happened behind closed hotel doors. It offers a fascinating insight into the obsessions, dreams and fears of the celebrated writer Douglas Adams, played convincingly by Adam Gardnier. Dressed in his bath robe and flinging his towel around, Gardiner paints a picture of a man fighting his own literary demons. Adams really hated writing, sulking over the fact that he would never be as productive as his idol, P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote 92 books, or as funny as John Cleese. Oh yes, all work and no play makes Douglas a dull boy.
So, Adams is alone in the hotel room with just a yellow rubber duck for company. Then again, one is never alone with a rubber duck, as we know perfectly well... Especially not when it suddenly comes to life as a figment of his imagination trying to speed up his writing process. The duck was played by the wonderful Rob Stuart-Hudson. With his hilarious fake American accent and exaggerated delivery bursting with manic energy, Stuart-Hudson formed a perfect contrast to Gardiner’s stiff upper lip. The two very different acting styles led to constant comedic clashes, which became the backbone of the play.
We Apologise for the Inconvenience is a lovingly written tribute to the late Douglas Adams. You don't have to be a fan to appreciate the great screenplay; in just three-quarters of an hour, you get an intimate and revealing deconstruction of not just Adams, but also his chaotic writing process. Approaching deadlines is something we can all relate to. In fact, I’ll start writing this review in a minute – I’ll just run a quick bath first…