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Theatre

March 25, 2013

I have been invited to a very special show. When the letter arrived detailing the time and locations of the performance, I was caught unawares. Would this be the final chapter of a very long but fascinating story? Or the beginning of a new series?

I recall that first letter and that first show. Since then I have been invited to many private performances. At first I knew nothing of the actors I would be seeing and had heard no review of the performance. I had no idea what to expect.

Over the months, I have sat alone in my reserved booth and watched silently the show unfold before my unwavering eyes. Each show is like another episode, every time I go, I witness something I have not seen before. Nothing is ever repeated but I always leave the theatre having experienced a familiar cliffhanger ending. Every time I go my only wish is that this time the ending will be different – I guess that is why I continue to go and watch from afar the performers I have grown to love.

I glance down at the black engraved invitation while I wait once again for the show to resume. In the low theatre lighting I can make out my indented name and I am aware for the first time that the season is drawing to a close. This theatre, I recently heard, has been reserved, booked out for the new season by some drama/dance troupe of unknown names and talents. I cannot help but wonder if the show I have become so familiar with will continue without the stage to perform it on? Without the spotlights to expose and hide each scene as it is played out, without an audience to see and confirm?

The story of the play continues tonight as it had over the many nights I have sat here in this gloomy dark. Two characters are all that ever appear on the stage. One man, dark and emotional and One woman, pale and confused. They are the stars and every time they appear on the stage my eyes are drawn instantly to their every move. Sometimes only one appears before me, she lights up the entire stage but I often get the impression that she is as unaware of the plot as I am from my perch here in the audience.

At times, he appears at the corner of the stage, hidden amongst the shadows near the curtain and I watch him watch her.

He is constantly conscious of his position on the stage yet he appears only to have eyes for his leading lady. Just as she only has eyes for her leading man when she knows he is there and he allows her to see him.

I have seen her on occasion look out into the auditorium and see me. She has often followed my gaze to realise he is standing there behind her, watching her every breath. Sometimes she looks back to lock eyes with him and sometimes she continues to watch me, seeing him reflected back in my eyes, understanding of his need to watch her without her knowledge.

Once or twice I have even seen his eyes flash with gratitude towards my seat because of this. It is amazing how intricate this show has become.

There are others too, minor, almost insignificant characters who prowl like hungry hyenas or hover like bored vultures waiting for one of them to miss their cue. Hundreds of them stand at the base of the stage, their howls and cries can often be heard from way up here where the emptiness of the stands around me echoes with their madness.

They remind me of the witches in Macbeth or the Harpies in She-ra. Their single-minded mission scares me and I often find myself drawing my knees to my chest and clutching them tightly as I fear for both the leading parts whenever they venture too close to the edge of the stage.

I cannot decide whether they reach out to drag him down into the depths of their crazed desires or whether they mean to pull themselves up using him as a lever into the stage and into his spotlight. Their reactions to him are different to their reactions to her. To her, their fears and anger become uncontrollable and they seem to swell evilly, growing into some hideous monster intent on hauling her off the stage and ripping her into thousands of pieces to be scattered all over the front row seats. At the same time they shrink into individual beings, beguilingly innocent and sweet in an effort to deceive her into friendships, trying to convince her into inviting them up on stage to join her.

I hear the cries from below and as the lights dim and the curtains begin to open, I realise once again that I will bare witness to an extraordinary performance. I wonder somewhat curiously what emotions will be played out tonight. Previously, I have seen anger, fear, hatred, longing, love, happiness, despair loneliness and lust and often these emotions have been expressed repeatedly or in tandem or even alternating on and off throughout the evening.

I must admit, I never quite know what to expect.

The curtain pulls back and the house lights shut off completely leaving the entire theatre n complete darkness. Suddenly a light appears. It exposes one side of the stage and I see a large window.

This is nothing new. Windows have been a constant theme throughout the season but something in the air feels different.

The leading lady appears behind the window. That is the difference. Never before have I seen her through a window. She is always outside of it.

I settle back, intrigued now, content to watch the show play out before me.

The howls from below grow wilder as he also appears behind the window. I jerk up in my seat, a smile plays around the corner of my lips.

A new twist.

They stare out of the window down into the crowd below who have entered some sort of maddened frenzy but they are protected together behind the glass. Without looking at one another they move closer and closer to each other until they finally turn and share a heated embrace.

I sigh almost silently and settle back down into my chair. This will be an interesting night, I think and wonder how tonight will end.

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2 Comments
  1. Wow. Powerful. Brilliantly described. We shall talk about this piece, I know. 🙂

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