Had our second performance of Jake's Women last night and it went well. Bigger audience, and more responsive than the first night. You never know when an audience is going to laugh, but you have to let them. The tricky part is riding the wave of laughter, coming in with your next line just as the laughter is dying down. You want them to hear the dialogue, but you don't want to wait so long there's an awkward pause. My comic timing's not too bad, but an audience is an organic, multi-headed beast.
The laughs always get bigger in the second half. Why? The audience has talked about the show at half-time, and given themselves permission to laugh. In Jake's Women, there's an hilarious 10-page sequence that, when played right, generates the biggest laughs of the night. [It's followed by a moving, almost tragic sequence afterwards - great contrast in the writing.] Plus the audience will have been to the bar at the interval and enjoyed a tipple. A little alcohol loosens up the funny bone.
We had all sorts of scrambles last night. Missed lines, blank moments, and one character walking off stage three pages too soon. But they all got covered or recovered and 99% of the audience would have been none the wiser. Now it's two down, one to go. We'll be going for it tonight, determined to ensure our last performance is also our best performance. Last nights are a joyous occasion, the relief of knowing the hard work is over and the fun can begin.
But there's also the crushing sadness of knowing the camaradie, the shared experiences of all those rehearsals and worries and efforts are coming to an end. That the happy band formed for this show will never be assembled again. I hate the Sunday after a last night Saturday. It's gloomy, knowing that particular joy is gone forever. Still, it's auditions for the pantomime on Monday, so there'll be a new happy band forming within a week and the whole process starts again. No doubt there's a moral to be drawn from all of this - I'll let you figure it out.