Team Maurice - The Last Leg! By Brendan Mageean
Team Maurice were in our final week of performances, and after a good blast of sea air down at Little Harbour in Cornwall, we were ready to set off on the last leg of our tour!
Our next two stops were Children’s Hospice South West’s other two hospices, Little Bridge House and Charlton Farm. Setting off from Barnstaple we arrived at Little Bridge House, and we were no sooner in the door before we were offered tea, coffee, and a box of Celebrations to ward off the bitter cold morning. Happy days - there were Maltesers left! A great start to our final week! Once the show was over, we got packed away just as the Motorcycle Santas began to arrive, and we headed off to Bristol with a goodie-bag of sweeties for the journey. Next stop – Chartlon Farm.
Having arrived a bit ahead of schedule, Scarlett and I decided to go for a walk and take in some of our beautiful surroundings – even finding time to stop and talk to some wee sheep. Us two country folk felt right at home. But there was work to do! We found Laura, got set up beside quite possibly the biggest Christmas Tree I have ever seen, and started the show. Chartlon Farm loved our chestnut fight, so much so that we ended up playing a game of 'throw the chestnuts in the bag' at the end of the show. And although we could happily have stayed in the beautiful Bristol countryside, we had to get on the road and drive to Wales!
Sunday brought us to Ty Hafan in Sully, where we were greeted with tea, coffee, and a big plate of biscuits. We were soon set up and the show was underway. As a big Lego fan, I couldn’t help noticing their collection, and thought that I really should dig mine out of the attic and donate it all so that more kids could get as much joy out of it as I did. Once the show was over, we headed over to Barry Island. Laura is a big Gavin and Stacey fan, so we visited Stacey’s house and then ventured down to the beach. I was delighted to find that they sold Curry Chips – a delicacy I hadn’t been able to find since moving to London from Ireland. After savouring the local cuisine and taking in the fresh Welsh air, we were back on the road, this time Worcester bound!
Monday was our final day on the road! First stop of the day – Acorns for the Three Counties. We thought we were going to have to go manual when our bubble gun stopped working, but at the final moment it pulled through and Bow the Bauble Bird had bubble baubles a plenty. And it seemed it was our lucky day, as we were gifted a lovely box of cake and mince pies to keep us going on our long day of driving ahead. (In case you haven’t noticed by now, I love tea, cake, biscuits, pies, sweeties…) With our snacks safely stowed, we were off to Helen and Douglas House in Oxfordshire. We were full of excitement at the thought of being back in our own beds that night, and with a very playful audience I got a little carried away and a chestnut ended up plopping right into someone’s cup of coffee! Fear not though, this Grandmother assured me she had been a good girl all year and was on the nice list, and low and behold a fresh cup of coffee appeared! That is true Christmas magic! Everyone said their goodbyes, the puppets were packed away in their beds, and we headed back to London to rest before our final show.
And what a show it was! Bright and breezy, we left London behind for one last time and Team Maurice were on our way to The Children’s Trust Brain Injury Unit in Tadworth. The sun was shining, and in no time at all we were set up, with a full hall of children, family members, carers, teachers, nursery pupils, and friends all waiting to meet Harry and his friends. The energy and excitement in the room was incredible, with our interactive ’12 Days of Christmas’ and our chestnut fight going down a storm! The sensory buckets of ‘Figgie Pudding ingredients’ were so popular I didn’t know whether they were ever going to make it into the mixing bowl! The highlight however, was watching everyone make their Christmas Wish, seeing the reactions to the finger lights, and hearing some of our audience sing along. It really was magical.
As we packed up our kit, deflated our giant baubles, and hunted for stray chestnuts, I felt incredibly grateful for what I had experienced over the past six week. It was a privilege to perform for and meet so many wonderful people, and to see the real importance of theatre first hand. And so, to everyone who welcomed us, joined in our story, and shook their jingle bells – thank you.
And also for all the tea and biscuits.