Stephen and I walk out into the silent dark. Beyond the soft ring of spotlight on the floor is the blur of the audience, mostly shadow. We set down our stools, set down our prop bouquets, sit on the stools and wait.
As the light comes up on our 1930s drags, there's a little roll of laughter in the crowd - a good sign. The technician is to give us a couple seconds before starting the music, so Madeleine and Penny Prévert in their imaginary dressing room start to pantomime primping at their imaginary dressing table, looking through an invisible mirror to the audience.
I check my hair (wig), doing that thing where you cup your hand and pat at the bottom of your curls, and I think, oh god, that's so cliché. I peer ahead into the mirror and fiddle with my earring, dab at my lipstick. I want to powder my face with an imaginary puff but I'm afraid of taking it too far.
After a few moments, I start to wonder when the music's going to start. A peek over at Stephen: he's fluffing the puffs of white net at his shoulder and trying not to look worried. Still no music. I try to shoot a quick look over at our technician sitting in a glow of red light at the back corner of the performance space, but with my glasses off, I don't even know if I'm looking at him.
Stephen could just give up and say the first line, but the first line is, "Oh, listen, the orchestra is starting," and the orchestra hasn't started yet, so we sit in our spotlight, looking through our mirror at the silent audience, and wait for the music.
9 hours ago