THEATRE: Sandi Toksvig teaches Brighton a thing or two

Sandi Toksvig
Sandi Toksvig

AS BRIGHTON’S streets filled to the brim with marauding post-Pride crowds, it was an altogether more civilised affair inside The Dome.

Sandi Toksvig brought her My Valentine show to the city on Saturday (September 1), offering up a mix of side-splitting humour, mind-blowing stories, and brain-enhancing facts.

One theme of the evening was the joy of growing old, sparked by Sandi’s realisation, at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, that it had been more than 30 years since her first appearance there.

Getting old lends itself to liberating experiences such as giving up “small pants”, and while standing at a cash machine, we were told, our host was approached by an elderly woman, who proceeded to tell her: “I like you because, like me, you are of no specific shape.”

The conclusion? There are more important things to worry about than how many grey hairs you have, and the size of your bottom.

Peels of understanding laughter filled the auditorium, and we were off on a journey of discovery.

The show was loosely based around a new book by the comedian, best known for her roles on TV’s Call My Bluff and Radio 4’s The News Quiz.

Called Valentine Grey, it tells the story of a young British woman who dresses as a man and travels to South Africa to fight in the Boer War, and Sandi took the audience through parts of her research, which looked at people who had done just that.

Before the interval, we were warned up an upcoming history quiz, and were not disappointed as everyone in the auditorium was asked to stand up and take part. In true Qi-style, myths were busted in hilarious-fashion, as more and more of the audience were knocked out of the running.

There was more audience participation as the evening progressed, with a question and answer session, and the show concluded with an invitation for us all to stand up and pretend to conduct Beetoven’s Ode to Joy with her, which turned out to be quite a moment.

An amazing night full of laughter and education was rounded off with a meeting with the lady herself, which sent my companion for the evening, a self-confessed “Sandi groupie” since Number 73 first screened in the 1980s, into something of an all-adoring melt-down.