"The Forever Play"

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide


Copyright 2009 by the author, Larry Stark


10:16 p m Wednesday 24 June '09

Who WAS it gave her the tip, Joanna wondered, carefully scraping the age-lines off her cheeks, staring into the dressing-room mirror. Was it Ted Kazanoff? "If you've got to think about a performance, spend as much time taking off your make-up as you did putting it on. Don't become yourself again until your character is completely gone." Would Ted have said that? Probably not. He was always insistent on Being the character, In the moment, REacting not Acting. Don't THINK before you Act.

Well, I blew that tonight, didn't I? And not ON stage but Backstage! Damn it, why did I listen to Meggan again, that damned air-head! "Where's my purse!" she said, "I've got to find my cell-phone in it, and it's not here!" And I was scouring the damn props-table when she ran on-stage, and of course there it was on her night-table, where it Always Is every ghoddamned night! And so I missed MY final entrance --- AGAIN!

Anita will kill me, she knew, as she re-applied a great gob of cold-cream to her forehead and grabbed up a handfull of kleenex. Or no. No, Madame La Stage Manageress just calls the show from the light-booth --- and keeps notes of every little mistake. She uses her Assistants as her hatchet-men --- and How many ASMs have we had, just since I joined the show alone? Three? Two? They're so eager to show they're ready to move up they just Love to draw blood with "notes" and leave at the drop of a hat whenever an SM slot opens anywhere. But damn it it's true! I lurched on-stage After my cue like a deer in the Leko's, and Harry gave me My line and answered with his. It was a nice cover --- you'd have to be one of those adoring idiot-fans who've seen the show half a dozen times to spot it. But Anita did, I'm sure, and noted it down with a pen-full of poison.

Meggan is Always dithering about her props, and they're Always right where they should be. The ASMs see to that; why can't she trust them? Why can't she trust Herself??

And why do I have to drop concentration to help her, when it's my own damn entrances I ought to be worried about. Joanna scrubbed at her eyes, which had spoiled her bows leaking tears of shame and anger, staining her cheeks, and damnit her costume, with mascara. This is the second --- no by Ghod the Third time something's thrown me off before that same damn entrance. Last time was Months ago, but it happened my first week in the show. I remember everyone was So supportive of the silly Newby: "We've All had a lapse or three over the years dear. Let us tell a few War-Stories on ourselves. You'll be Fine once it's Routine. Relax!"

Yes, routine. They all have routines. Like Harry rolling in drunk out of his mind for two nights right after payday, and so hung next night he can hardly see. Never loses a line though --- but so wooden it's like talking to a brick wall all night. And so sheepishly apologetic to everyone the rest of the week it's embarrassing even to talk to him. So he talks about A A, but never does anything about it, and next month Whoopsie! Off the wagon again. Routine.

We all adjust to everyone else's routines, don't we? I mean, at first I thought it was just I was the New Kid on the Block when Andre put the moves on me. Want a ride home in my Porsche? Want to stop for a little night-cap before hitting the sack? How'bout running lines at my place before the show? Need help with that zipper, gorgeous? Jeez! Come to find out he's that way with everyone in the cast --- even Meggan, who's old enough to be his Gradmother almost! Oh, I felt a little flattered at first --- I'm that insecure when it comes to men --- but "Don't shit where you eat." Who said that? Lenny Bruce? And Andre Never scores! First, he's so damn Obvious --- and I'll bet if any of us took him seriously he'd run screaming for the door.

Then there's Lori and Don, both of them leaping at every damn audition comes along, embarrassed to tell their friends they're Still in this pitiful commercial warhorse instead of doing anything Serious. They Hate the show, and the subtext in their every line is that We must be dunces or second-rate no-talents to stick with it as long as we have. Oh it's a good credit when you're young --- a few months in the longest-running show in town --- but it's not a Career, darlings, it's more a Sinecure! We're just here for the beer.

Well, maybe that's a little more realitsic than poor Myra. She's Method to the Eyelids, and always searching in herself for a new clue to her role, a new through-line to experiment with, a bit of backstory she's just discovered or found a new way to explore. It isn't Just a murder-mystery to her, there are motivations on motivations on sub-sub-subtextual nuances yet to try. It'd be a little easer to take if she wouldn't insist on talking them all to death with everyone else.

Joanna finally ran out of face. Even her ears emerged pale and pure and hiding not a fleck of obstinate greesepaint. She dabbed on a puff of powder and, before facing the outer-world, picked up her lipstick and made a mouth to smile at it with.

Of course (she sat back and contemplated her real face a moment) the true problem isn't the play --- it's trying to live with the other people in the cast! I mean, Gregory's gay, and Andre is Probably gay or would be if he'd admit it, and there are cat-fights and spats and insults and gangings-up and offense- takings and tears, and in a backstage this small it's easy to see all the invisible bloodstains on the walls. Didn't Sartre say "Hell is Other Actors!"? Or was it Hell is a Long Run? Are we all damned to stay in this show for all Eternity? What were our sins, I wonder...

Well, she sniffed, flinging on a coat and finding her Charlie-Card, if this is Hell, at least it pays Equity Minimum!


12:21 a m "Wednesday, 24 June, '09"

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