As dawn broke in Chicago five tired actors bundled into a cab and headed towards the airport. After a (rare) game of Squinties, (see footnote) we flew to Denver. Our connecting flight to Salt Lake City was delayed, so by the time we arrived in Utah we were considerably behind schedule. Moises was waiting for us at the airport. When we met him he looked momentarily surprised and then bustled us off to the car hire. We had a few issues regarding the billing for the car hire, which further agitated Moises. It probably didn’t help that we kept inadvertently singing the first few bars of various songs from The Book of Mormon. Which we felt terrible about. But it was unavoidable. It’s like when you meet someone called Eileen.
Eventually we were ready to head off into the mountains. We had a deadline to make. The deadline was close. Moises was very aware of the deadline. There were many cars on the freeway. Moises decided he was going to be the fastest, irrespective of which lane he was in and which side of the car he was passing. Red lights? Moises scorned such petty fripperies. Signals? Only if absolutely necessary. They take too much time. Brakes? What are brakes?
We arrived sweating and quivering at the hotel. Moises came up to us, for all the world like we have just had a lovely walk in the park. “Well, we made it in time. I’ll be back in fifteen minutes to escort you to the university.” “Th-th-th-thanks…”
By the time we arrived at the faculty meeting we were pretty much spent. Thankfully the faculty were lovely, and before long, with some prompting, they realised that we desperately needed water and found some for us. We’ll be doing the show at Brigham Young University. Brigham was the founder of Salt Lake City, and president of the Mormons. This is a photo of him.
Despite this, beards are banned on campus, which might be an explanation of why Moises did that double take at the airport. It also means that we are unable to disguise ourselves as Mormons and seamlessly blend in.
Everyone here is lovely, and healthy looking. The Mormons don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, I think. Although I have a strong suspicion that many of them are consequently addicted to sugar. My first meal was grilled chicken. With candied bacon. On a sugar waffle. Covered with maple syrup. I managed about half of it. This sugar addiction would perhaps make sense of the speed at which people drive; (“YAHOOOOOOOO!!!”) And also how much positive energy everyone seems to have. (“I JUST FEEL SOOO GOOD RIGHT NOW!!!”) And it has driven the market for the widest variety of soft drinks I have ever witnessed. About 50 different kinds of root beer were laid out on shelves at the back of the restaurant. It’s great. When I took a year off booze in London my options were watered down Coke for 700 quid a glass, or tired orange juice made out of food colouring and drain water. Had I been in Utah I probably would have lasted more than a year.
And Utah is stunning. I drove to Bryce Canyon yesterday, which is a 7 hour round trip. It’s huge. It’s gorgeous. Just astronomical. Lovely people. Lovely countryside. Food?
Our first Utah show will be tonight, Thursday 25th September at 7pm on an outdoor stage in Mary Lou Fulton Plaza. Tomorrow, same time same place. I’m curious to see what being outdoors will do to the show. We shall see. It’ll be a work out for our voices for sure. Saturday’s show is at 2pm, indoors, at The Pardoe. They keep us on our toes.
Footnote: (To play Squinties, you need two or more sensitive people. Squinties can be played at any time, anywhere, but if anyone notices they are playing then they lose. The game begins when one sensitive person inadvertently upsets another one. A common response is to inadvertently upset back. Continuation of the game can take many forms, always assuming that nobody has yet noticed they are playing. The only move that is disallowed is actual violence. Any actual violence will automatically end the game of Squinties in a draw and start a game of Hospital Tag which is no fun as nobody wins, although everybody gets a present. Squinties is won when someone says, preferably while squinting “Oh, is there tension? I hadn’t noticed”. The more one can sound like Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, the better the win is considered to be.)
(By Al Barclay)