Yes, that’s right I went to see a Play and ended up playing two different parts in it. It wasn’t as if I had anything to do with the Play. The last thing you expect when you go to the theatre is that you get called up on the stage, especially when you are watching a One Person Play! So here is how it all came about.
One evening my friend Tim and I went to Newport to watch a Play about Oliver Reed, who was a well known actor but was even more well known for the amount of alcohol he would drink every day. I already mentioned it was a one person play, which sounds boring but knowing what a hell raiser the man was we thought that there would be some interesting stories in there about his life, so we took a chance.
We got into our front row seats just as the curtain lifted to reveal the set which naturally was a pub. The actor playing Oliver Reed came on stage and walked to the bar and kept calling for ‘Andrew’ the barman. He called out for a few minutes then walked over to me and said ‘there you are, get behind the bar and serve me’. At this point I wanted to slide down in my seat and hope that he would move on but when he pointed to where the steps were. I thought that the least embarrassing thing to do would be to go up on stage and hand him a couple of drinks and sit back down as quickly as possible. Once on stage he lead me behind the bar and pointed to the drinks and said ‘beer please’ I handed him bottles while he did his monologue. When that came to an end he pointed to bottles that was on the shelf behind me and said ‘join me for a beer.’ Thinking it was finally over and I could go back to my seat, I grabbed a bottle off the shelf. I followed his lead and started to knock back the drink, it took five second for it to hit me that my drink wasn’t the ‘fake’ beer he was knocking back but real beer. I had visions of him telling me to drink another bottle and of me falling of the stage drunk.
Thankfully he told me to grab some bottles and hand them out the people around me. Sitting back down I handed a bottle to Tim and said to him ‘I’m glad that’s over with, I can relax now!’ Little did I know that the Second Act would be more like an Anxiety Dream than the nerve racking First Act!
The rest of the First Act was entertaining and more importantly I was left alone, mid way through the Second Act he started to tell the story about him being drunk on an American talk show and one of the other guests became so annoyed with him that she poured a drink over his head live on tv. He started to tell us that he was on the Johnny Carson show when he looked over to me and a sudden rush of dread washed over me as he walked over me.
He looked down at me and said ‘c’mon Johnny Carson, come up here’ again I thought the less embarrassing thing would be to just go along with it than to protest and stay in my seat. As I walked across to the stool that was at the centre of the stage he handed me a microphone and a stack of index cards. My first thought was I hope these are just props but that hope soon vanished when I looked at the cards and typed on the first card was the script for the next scene, gulp!
He also brought a woman up on stage to play the guest who poured the drink over his head and I heard him stay ‘all you have to do is pour the drink over me when I tap you’ At this point I was hoping I would only have to say one line but a quick glance at the other cards I notice ‘Johnny Carson:’ on at least four of the cards. It was then I made the mistake of looking out at the audience and noticing it was full of people all staring back at me. I kept saying to myself ‘pretend this is school and you are speaking in front of the children’. Thankfully I was next to the stool has I felt my legs starting to shake and my knees knocking and I managed to sit down before my legs give way.
It was at this point he whispered to me to read the first line. I started to read the first line but was thrown by how loud my words were coming back at me through the microphone, which made my hands shake more. Now, not only did I have all the people looking back at me but I also had to concentrate on following the script and not dropping all the cards on the floor. After reading the introduction and asking a few questions that was written on the cards all the while hoping it would all end soon. I turned over the next card and to my relief I noticed on the written at the bottom ‘drink poured over Oliver’
I finally relaxed enough to say my last line of the script (but not enough to remember what the line was) and look up in time to see the drink poured over his head so I must have read the line correctly because she knew what to do and the audience applauded. I tried to get off the stage as quickly as I could, he whispered thanks to me when I walked past him. I got to my seat and flopped down and said ‘lets never sit in the front row’
For the rest of the show I panicked every time he walked over to my side of the stage and gave him my the best ‘don’t you dare think about it’ look. Thankfully the play ended without my acting skills being called upon again and my heart rate returned to normal.
The following day the actor playing Oliver Reed tweeted that the show was going to the West End. I jokingly messaged him to ask if he minded me telling people that I acted in a play that was heading to the West End, he said ‘of course you can’
So that was the story of me acting in a play that was heading to the West End.