Five Deathly Words


Five words a playwright hopes never to hear:  ticket sales disappointing so far. 

I’m not a total stranger to this kind of announcement. Usually it contains the word ‘book’ rather than ‘ticket’. Nevertheless, it still strikes a chill. After all, this isn’t the London Palladium I’m trying to fill.

Next Thursday’s performance at the Baron’s Court Theatre is gratifyingly sold out, thanks in no small way to the efforts of that diligent and dutiful uber-networker, my son, Alastair. Every other show is looking threadbare.

It happens. I remember being in a single-figure matinee audience at the Coventry Criterion and watching Joe ‘Mr Piano Henderson’ plinking manfully on, into the void. If it bothered him he didn’t show it.

Actually, my main problem this week isn’t gloom from the box office. It’s impotence. A week to go till the opening. The actress still has a job to do, and so does the director, but my role ended the day I signed off on the script. And that is probably why, so far today, I’ve emptied the toaster crumb tray and cleaned two pairs of my husband’s shoes. Occupational therapy.

It isn’t working.

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