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Remember, it’s only a play. Part 2

I made Best of the Week.

Hot Dogs at the Eiffel Tower was one of the 5 pieces selected to move forward and be performed again on Saturday.

I found out at 11.30pm on Friday night. I wasn’t sitting up waiting for the call, I really wasn’t expecting to make Best Of, although I was sure I wanted to stage the play again.

Me, Erik and his dad had spent the evening playing Scrabble. Erik won by a far larger margin than should have been possible without cheating. His dad was second, but I think it was because he had a lot of ‘Q’s and Erik had all the ‘U’s. Again, not that he was cheating. I never feel very smart around Erik and his dad. When they later started talking about algebra and calculus and trig and which was the easier, my brain offered up this insightful contribution: ‘I’m rubbish at maths’. Brilliant. Drink some more cider.

Anyway, just as I was falling asleep my cellphone rang and I muttered to Erik that it would be my friend Joy from LA. Instead it was the Fronterafest coordinator congratulating me. I couldn’t get back to sleep for hours. Which is Excuse No. 1 for my Saturday night performance. I spent Saturday morning chatting with Erik’s dad about Pythagoras Theorem and trying to reach my essential Train Platform Announcer person, Sean Carey to make sure he could do the show. He eventually called me at 4.30pm, after receiving my ever more frantic calls. Excuse No.2.

It was fortunate for my marriage that he did call because at the moment, I was ‘coaching’ Erik on his soon-to-be Train Platform Announcer debut. Apparently he wasn’t saying Platform 6 quite to my liking. Never mind that he was bailing me out, thus ensuring the show would go ahead.

The show was sold out so I couldn’t invite anyone and even though Erik offered to tape my show I decided I wanted to do it on my own. I got to the theatre at 7.00 and went through all my props and added two bottles of water for onstage so I wouldn’t get lizard tongue again. I was second in the line-up which I felt edgy about, because the first piece is quite somber and only runs about 10 minutes so the audience wouldn’t be vey warmed up.

I didn’t feel quite right. Excuse No.3. I was tired, I know this because when I went to Walgreens to buy bottled water and gum, the checkout woman sympathised with me, she was tired too apparently. More blusher didn’t help, nor did the other half pack of cigarettes, nor even playing Under Pressure, We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions back to back on my iPod.

At 7.45 I gave up on the idea of filming myself and began pacing. And pacing. It was quite strange because Sean, myself, the brilliant slam poet Eirik and Amy, the actress from the opening piece were all pacing up and down the alley outside the theatre, not wanting to stray too far. We’d often pass each other, cut across or double back, but never speak or make eye contact. It could make for a fabulous Fronterafest dance piece next year.

The first piece opened. I tried to drum up some energy from within or however you’re supposed to summon it. Then it was my turn. I did the okey dokey-hokey cokey with the stage manager and then lights up. 25 minutes later -and it could have been more- I left the stage feeling a little emotional and naked. In a vulnerable sense, I’m not one to compromise myself to the judges for a Best of Fest nomination.

Everything felt different. I know my timing was off. Not the same laughs in the same places. Some laughs in strange places. A lot of heavy silence, especially from me when I lost my line towards the end and went entirely blank. Thank goodness for Sean ad-libbing me out of that.

And the final embarrassment: at the end of the play, the lights go down and the spotlight is supposed to come straight up center stage. But it didn’t and so the audience, thinking the show was over, began applauding. I fought the urge to say ‘hang on, there’s a bit more’ but it was close. And then it was over and they kindly applauded a second time and prayed that the third act would make them laugh heartily. It was the brilliant slam poet. And he did. And I went home.