“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” The author of the radio series which became a book which became a television series which became a feature film which became a stage play, the great Douglas Adams was eminently quotable in his diverse work which also included the creation of the “holistic detective” Dirk Gently and a stint as script editor on Doctor Who, and in his unusual and too brief life.
It was in 1984 that with his latest novel in the series increasingly inaccurately titled as a trilogy and known collectively as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy overdue, Adams’ editor resorted to locking him in a hotel room in order to ensure the work of writing took place; Adams, with the inventiveness which had earned him global adoration as a comedy writer, continued to avoid his contractual obligations.
Billed as “an infinitely improbable play about Douglas Adams” and taking its name from the final message of God to his creations, as revealed in the final pages of the novel that eventually was published as So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and translated by Marvin, We Apologise for the Inconvenience is set within those days of cloistered servitude to the word processor as Adams and his rubber duck take endless baths.
Directed by Ross Kelly from a script by Mark Griffiths and enjoying a too-brief run at the Fringe, Adam Gardiner is Douglas Adams while Rob Stuart-Hudson is the duck, by far the more sensible and diligent of the two as he applies himself to the most impossible task an aquatic bird can undertake before breakfast, making an undisciplined writer write.
His extended bathing a displacement activity he hopes will free his mind to reconnect him across eons of evolution with the primordial gloop from which humanity sprang and trigger his creative process, in his bathrobe and towel for legitimate plot reasons, the parallels between Adams and Arthur Dent are pronounced; where does DA become AD? Clutching their teacups to their chests, both are Englishmen out of their depth.
“Hell is not dark,” he quips: “it’s white, A4 and comes in boxes of five reams at all good stationers.” From Wodehouse to Monty Python, complete with the duck performing the requisite silly walk, the performances are enthusiastic, the laughs are frequent, the observations are heartfelt, Griffiths capturing the particular mode of Adams prose and his contrary character, We Apologise for the Inconvenience a piece to be appreciated by devotees of the Guide which can still be enjoyed by those less hoopy.