The second night was a disaster. The backdrops fell down three times, the lead forgot her lines and had to be prompted through her speech so much that the prompter walked onstage and held the script for the actor to read and, in a freak change room accident, two wigs caught on fire from the Hollywood lights. Tom York, the theatre critic, had missed the opening night due to a previously engagement (his wife said if he did not join her couples book club it would be the last straw) and so this was the night which was reviewed. The director told the cast that it was likely that the show would close within a week; the review was bound to be so awful. Three members of the chorus were on jobseeker.com on their phones as loved ones picked them up.
So it was to all of their surprise when the review was a glowing one. The play was a new absurdist play, and it seems that the flaws of the performance had been seen as metaphors for, well from the review, everything from the war in Iraq to the Japanese earthquake. The cast and crew came in early and met with the director. They sat in the first two rows of the theatre; the director sat on a chair onstage, his head in his hands. When it seemed everyone was there, he looked up.
“I’m sure you’ve all read the review. We’re a hit.”
His excited audience cheered and whooped and one called out ‘taxi’ with gross misuse of a truly dated expression. The director held up one hand and the ground wound down to quiet.
“We have a problem. Last night, everything went wrong. That is what was reviewed well. A bunch of mistakes. Now, we have to recreate this, yet keep it fresh. Any ideas?”
They looked around silently. The understudy for the lead put her hand up. “What if everyone swapped roles?”
Everyone looked at the director in anticipation. He uttered two words. “Good. Next?”
One of the dancers called out, “I could bring my dog in. He could be let free onstage?”
The director nodded. “More.”
“We could divide the first act into two acts. And the second act into four.”
“Throw the audience lollies!”
“Speak every second word!”
“Dance the funeral march!”
“Laugh when we’re sad and cry when we’re happy!”
“Everyone goes bottom less!”
All but two members of the audience left at the first interval (of the first act, which had been divided into seven) and the show closed two days later.