It was, hands down, our best overall performance of the show! Tiny snags, of course, but for me, and for several others in the cast, it was a very memorable evening.
The audience played a large part. They were slightly larger than our last two audiences, and were without doubt, more responsive. (Though "Eleanor" and I were commenting afterwards how funny it is that a responsive audiences can sometimes laugh at things you never expect, while at the same time giving you nothing at moments you think are going to kill such an audience.) Unlike most of the people in the first two audience, this one continues to find things to laugh at right up until the end. The other two, as a unit, sort of petered out halfway through act 2, by and large. This one was still getting some of the jokes, and was willing to laugh at them, in the final ten minutes.
It seems to be a more biting crowd. Perhaps I should say, they were more willing to laugh at some of the biting, nasty moments in the play. Those razor sharp, quick moments of invective really hit this audience. The result not always being uproarious laughter, but sustained, muffled sneering guffaws of some sort. No doubt at all a reaction...just one I do not commonly hear, though this is the sort of play that gives opportunity for such "evil laughter", for lack of a better term.
As always, this sort of energy from the audience led to more energy on stage, which in turn led to new things showing up in the performances. While I was in a scene with John that was going well, I suddenly realized that at some point in the play, just about every other "family" member slaps him on the cheek when saying something to him. I did not have a moment in the play where I had done that before. So, at my first chance, I threw it in. It worked well, I sensed the crowd enjoyed it, and "John" later told me it was a good decision.
Not that I was the only one to do things a bit different in the John/Geoffrey interactions. John, at one point, is upset at Geoffrey. The actor usually pokes me during that speech, but this time sort of planted his fist rather firmly into my stomach. Not enough to wind me or anything, though I did have to swallow hard for a moment, and my stomach stung a bit afterwards. "John" must have sense it was too hard, because he apologized after the scene was over.
Then in the very next scene, as my stomach is still recovering, "John" pokes his finger, you guessed it, right into the center of my stomach. Not as bad that time, but still tender. More amusing than painful, we both laughed about it later. My stomach has always been a sensitive organ...
But moments like those, for better or worse, (almost always better) showed up in spades last night, I thought. In line deliveries if nothing else. Just the extra something that all stage actors know about. That extra character I am always referring to here on the blog. It was, for the most part, present last night.
Everyone gets better each night, and last night was the moment I think we really hit the tempo and rhythm of the piece. (Of course, on our second to last run of the show, as "Henry" pointed out afterwards.) I think, despite the struggle involved in such a schedule, those community theatres that do more than two weekends, (Or in the case of Muzak Box, do shows throughout a week) do have a better chance of having more spot on performances like we had last night, because of the sheer repetition of the thing. No doubt it's a different way of doing things that has it's own flaws. But I would be interested to try it at some point. Too many of my shows peak at the last minute.
But better to have one great night show up late, then to never have it show up. Plus we have one more show today. Matinee, yes, but I get the feeling lots of the people who wanted to come but could not so far might try to show up today, which will give us a large crowd, numbers wise. How responsive they will be...who knows?