So, I really should have known that after a great opening night, our second performance was likely to feel flat. The energy and excitement that had got us through the previous evening had somehow disappeared and for the first half an hour it felt like we were going through the scenes in slow motion. We found ourselves moving awkwardly around each other on the stage, stumbling over our words, leaving just too much of a gap between each other's lines. Halfway through our opening scene someone accidentally knocked against the table that wasn't meant to fall apart until later in the play. We'd only just managed to stifle the embarrassed giggles when one of the back-stage speakers fell down from the wall with a thunderous crash.
Worse, our missing exuberance seemed to be having an effect on the audience. At our first show, every time the lights went down, the audience had applauded. Last night it was as though everyone there was waiting for someone else to react first. Scene after scene passed by in deathly silence, the longer it went on, the worse it seemed to be, as the lines that we'd thought were sure-fire winners began to sink without trace.
Backstage we were starting to despair, each of us individually blaming ourselves for not quite getting it right. But then I think someone finally remembered that we were supposed to be having fun, so we started plotting ways to wake the audience up, to shock them from their slumbers, shake them from their timidity. And strangely enough, as we sat there thinking of ways to bring the audience to life we started to recapture some of our own confidence and enthusiasm. By the end of the night it felt like we were all back on track. There wasn't one of us who could have done it on our own, but somehow, between us we'd managed to turn it round.
In a short while we'll be trying to do it all again. And I'll be struggling with the added nervousness brought on by knowing that tonight Philip will be sitting out front. I know, once again, I'll be relying on my fellow cast and crew members to get me through, so I don't think there's any better way to end this post than by introducing you to some of my partners in crime, the splendid cast of the Gut Girls.