I knew there'd be trouble. We'd seen it on the horizon well in advance. For yesterday, in what amounts to a first for me, I was told off for being "too popular".
The final dress rehearsal for Oliver! was yesterday morning and had a full audience of schoolboys and teachers. I did my first little bit to perfection, of course, but struggled a little for my big scene. I did exactly what I was supposed to do, entering and exiting from the right points, but came a little unstuck when my partner wasn't in the right place in the wings to receive me when I came offstage. Not knowing quite what to do in her absence, I hopped down and hid in the orchestra pit. Unfortunately, I was spotted by members of the audience, who laughed at me. I was quietly guided off by my partner and returned to take my bow with Nick/Sikes, where the director's ire was compounded by the fact that I got the biggest cheer of all. Uh oh...
To say that the director was angry with me would be to massively understate the issue. He caught my partner and I backstage afterwards and detained us for some time, trying to diplomatically state his anger. His main thrust seemed to be that I was "upstaging the whole thing" and it "wasn't fair" because "[his] guys had worked so hard on this..." My partner replied that it would be a shame, but it was fine if he wanted to sack me. "I wouldn't put it like that..." came the riposte. My partner was a little upset - particularly as we have been giving our time generously and for free.
The upshot is that I have "one last chance" - tonight's performance, apparently, and then "we'll see how it goes." Oh, for goodness' sake. It isn't my fault that I'm so cute and popular, and I certainly do not intend to upstage anyone.
We should have known though – the writing was on the wall when he rejected my partner's colleague (who is in charge of the wardrobe) Maryanna’s costume suggestions because he wanted "more 1840 than 1860". I think, however, that everyone has had their fill of this director (I shall not name him). I don’t like it when he shouts hysterically at the boys (I am particularly protective of children and ladies, and some of these lads are as young as 7) - which he does, often, red-faced with rage. He is driving poor Joe (our friend the theatre technician) out of his mind and then yesterday he has this go at me and my partner; trying to sack me because I got a bigger cheer than the human cast – "upstaging them".
This morning, at work, my partner received an email which came essentially, though indirectly, from our director friend. And I quote: "cars parked [near the theatre] may want to park over near *** tomorrow and Friday. They have interval drinks which will spill out the front [of the theatre]. He (the director) was just a little concerned about cars being swamped by people! Do you know who the owner of a silver Rover is also parked near your car?"
Now, what the director actually means in this situation is that he doesn’t want cars parked outside the front of the theatre, soiling the area for his audience. But he need not fear. My partner and I do park near the theatre – our little green Corsa is affectionately termed by the Porters "the Skip"! But, tempted though I am to daub the car in chav iconography and offensive window-stickers (perhaps with a naked blow-up doll tastefully draped across the back seats) and then park it right outside the theatre doors, we will be leaving it elsewhere during the evening so that my partner and I can make a quick getaway. We will be well out of the way before the Blue Nun and canapés are laid out.
I believe the term "Doctor Theatre" is often used to describe the wonderful benefits to one's physical and personal wellbeing which emanate from the buzz of performing in front of an audience. But, in this instance, I find myself wondering why I'm bothering. I could be tucked up at home with a sausage and a nice cookery programme.