I have to tell you, I am so exhausted. Absolutely and completely worn out. Yesterday, during our matinee, I could barely keep my eyes open. After working so hard during the cruise, then one day home, then right into tech rehearsal and performances, it was almost too much. But I made it.
But something funny happened during the show -- so funny (and sweet, really) that I thought I was going to fall off the stage laughing. And worse, it was during a moment in the show where I couldn't laugh. So, I had to totally contain it without cracking so much as a smile -- and had to wait until we got to the dressing room. It came from a comment that popped out of the mouth of an audience member -- and I had no idea if Jim heard it. We couldn't look at each other and we couldn't do anything.
So, here it is -- and I hope it translates:
First of all, the audiences here much older than we are used to. I think it's because Tucson has many retirement communities -- and senior folks love to go to theatre. So, the Invisible Theatre has reaped the benefits of this population. (And more power to them).
The folks come in groups many times so they know each other and they make for a looser audience. Very responsive. We've played to full houses, and they've VERY reactive to the show. It's so good to hear all the wonderful laughter coming from the other side of the lights.
But they also tend to talk back now and then, which we don't mind at all. Jim loves the interaction and is really good at playing with them if they talk out loud.
However, since they are older than we are, they don't always know exactly where we're going with the show. In act two, as any of you who've seen the show know, we delve into the drama of my living with AIDS. But we slide into it gradually before we say the word "AIDS."
So, last night, I was crossing to stage right, saying my lines, after setting up the fact that we were moving to Los Angeles, "Well, it was the right move to make. We had two great cats."
Jimmy says, "Nothing could go wrong."
And then I cough (as a signal that I'm coming down with AIDS-related pneumonia). This moment always stops the show into dead silence as people take it as a sign that something has gone wrong.
When, out of blue, clear as a bell, we hear someone say, with absolute sincerity:
"He's allergic to the cats."
I thought I would come unglued. It was so unexpected. Most audiences we've played to are kind of expecting the whole AIDS thing to pop up since we mention it in our bios, etc. or they've read the reviews. But if you're older and you haven't really read anything about the show, it's natural that your mind might not go there.
Now, I can NOT stop the show at that point. I mean THIS is the point where it's all about AIDS! This is the most deadly serious moment of the play. I don't know how I maintained my poise. But I didn't crack a smile. But INSIDE I was laughing so hard, I could barely stand. And all I wanted to do was stop the show, run over to Jim and shout, "DID YOU HEAR THAT???"
So, we moved on to the hospital scene, the break-up, the reconciliation, then the end of the show.
When we got to the dressing room, we both looked at each other and just BURST out laughing into each others' arms.
God, I love live theatre. There's nothing like it. I couldn't stop laughing the rest of the day.