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Monday, March 13th

March 13, 2017

As tempting as it is to draw a veil over Saturday night, to simply pretend it didn’t happen, it would be a missed opportunity to talk about the power of friendship.

A good matinee performance on Saturday afternoon, with a decent house. One of my favourite comments of the weekend came during the intermission after our show. A bloke came up to me and told me how much he’d loved the play. He then went on to say he thought Charlie and I had absolutely captured the essence of the two characters. I smiled and told him that, given I’d actually written the play specifically for Charlie and me, it would have been pretty disappointing if we hadn’t.

Came home between shows to have a bite to eat. Went back to the venue. My friend Donna’s play was on first and I really wanted to see it as an audience member, so I slipped into the seat her partner had saved. At one point Donna did have to call for a line, but it was a minor glitch and the show was superb. Stood up to applaud her and her co-star at the end of the play, then made a dash outside for half a fag during the set change, then it was show time for Charlie and me.Unfortunately there was a bit of an unhelpful complication.

Quite early on my mind went blank and I had to call for a line. Annoying, but okay. Not the end of the world. Then it happened again. Then, before we were half way through the play, it happened a third time. I was absolutely floundering out there. Charlie, god love him, was willing me on, but I’d almost completely lost the plot. It was excruciating. I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow me. Or someone to shoot me to put me out of my misery. Then Charlie stood up and said his line, “Why are you even in the country? I thought you were in Sarajevo.” And I thought thank Christ. I actually know where I am and what’s supposed to happen (and be said) next. When the show was finally over, I didn’t even want to go back on stage to take a bow. Charlie had to push me out of the green room. After that, all I wanted to do was bang my head on the wall.

Dave suggested I just go home, have a glass of wine and forget about it, but I knew that wasn’t going to work. I’d just sit at home stewing and wishing I had a gas oven to stick my head in. Instead, Charlie bought me a pint at the pub. In the time it took to drive there I had already calmed down enough to look on the less black side: I hadn’t burst into tears on stage and I hadn’t run off the stage – both of which I’d been seriously tempted to do. So it could actually have been worse.

Over our pints, Charlie held my hand and walked me through the play to try to figure out how and where the wheels had come off. That didn’t really get us anywhere, so then we started trying to figure out what had been different that night. At which point I finally worked out the glaringly obvious: as much as I’d wanted to sit in the audience for Donna’s play, I should not have done that. My head just wasn’t in the game.

And then he asked me if I knew how beautifully I’d told the story of the dead girl that evening. Best ever, apparently. At which point I realised at least part of my head must have been in the game, because that particular speech falls somewhere between the second and third lines I had to call for. So perhaps my entire performance that evening hadn’t stunk the joint up. Absolutely not, Charlie assured me.

I thanked him for the hundredth time for agreeing to do the play. That evening’s nightmare notwithstanding, I’ve had every bit as much fun working with him and Dave again as I knew I would. I then repeated the promise I made to him when he agreed to take on the role of Jack: I will never ask him to do another play with me again. I was a bit surprised – and more than a little tickled – by how disappointed he looked. (He had just admitted the adrenaline was quite addictive.) Then it was my turn to squeeze his hand and say, “But, if you ever do another play with anyone other than me, I will have to kill you.” He laughed, but did nod his understanding that I wasn’t really kidding.

Outside the pub, before heading our separate ways, he gave me a big hug and told me the Sunday matinee was going to be great. And it bloody was.

The power of friendship. I’ve said it before and now I’m saying it again: top bloody geezer.

I really am going to miss seeing him at Dave’s three times a week. Fortunately, I’m not going to have to miss seeing Dave. He’s moving on to The Motor Trade next (acting, not directing) and I’ve agreed to be his line running partner. Now I’m going to have to start baking the cookies.

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