In like a lion, out like that… very same lion, only much more disoriented and error-prone.
Saturday was a good day, though I awoke feeling a little, as the Brits say, ‘ropey.’ After a delicious and hearty breakfast there was a spirited game of football at the park and some visiting time with the Birmingham side of the family. In fact all was cooking with gas until approximately 8 seconds after I stepped on the stage. It was at this point my scene partner clearly had absolutely no fucking idea where we were. The plot was lost and we were still on page one.
It took alot of back-and-forth to get us back on track and in the right place, and it did happen, but we set into an evening that was well known by all the actors to be a bit ‘ropey.’
Maybe it was the over-exertion of the football, or maybe it was the fact that we had such a good fucking show the night before, or maybe it was because the director decided to fuck up a completely perfect part of the play with some prop mischief*… But more than likely it was just a combination of everything plus nerves.
*Towards the end of the second act my character manages to unsettle the bumbling police officers to such an extent that they begin arguing furiously with one another and they accidentally let slip that they pushed the Anarchist out the window. During this very tense time my Maniac retreats to the window ledge and picks up some popcorn and a soda and sips away, engrossed by the action. It’s a nice little absurd visual joke that was discovered during rehearsal. It’s also brilliant in that it actually contributes to the action, because the Maniac is watching the events unfold intently, as if it was a particularly tense scene at the movies.
The director thought it would be funny if he substituted the popcorn and movie-sized drink with a Burger King cheeseburger and a drink this night. It was not funny. And not just ‘not funny’ in the sense that I was all “Hey Conrad, that wasn’t funny how you fucked with my props.” But largely ‘not funny’ in the way that I was all “Hey Conrad: that hilarious sight-gag that heightened the tension in that climatic scene was actually totally undermined by your terrible idea. Thus robbing our already ropey performance of one sure-fire laugh and substituting it with a moment of awkward confusion. You suck.”
Fortunately for us (and them) the audience had no idea that they had missed a far-superior presentation of Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist by exactly 24 hours. In fact, they seemed to enjoy themselves. And truth be told, so did I. Though it was alot harder work, and not such an excellent result it was still sad to say goodbye to the Maniac, and this production has re-inspired me to continue performing. I’ll keep diggin on this amateur theatre scene here. And I think my theatrical cred here should be good enough to get somebody to produce my improv workshops. Though before I commit to anything else I’ve got a play to write…