He sat in the scarlet seat in the center of the auditorium. The dance of the actor and actress was clumsy and confused. They were not sure of their movements, they were unaware what their partner was doing. Maybe the roles he had written were too rich to be pretended. Maybe the moments were too real to be made fake. Ever since he had re-injected the play with her essence, it had been too potent.
The rehearsals were going slowly, but the play was taking its stagely shape. There was a twinge in seeing his lines butchered in the earlier rehearsals and readings, but he experienced a great pleasure in the progressive improvement by the actors as familiarity grew. As the actor and actress became their characters, he began to feel differently toward them.
It started with the female lead. She played her character more and more like the woman her character was based on, that it began confusing him. He almost forgot he had put the words that she was saying on a page. He enjoyed watching someone who he desperately missed in the body of someone he didn’t know. He attached himself emotionally to her.
It was those confused feelings that lead to the change in his opinion of the male lead. Every time the man pulled her to him, each moment their lips touched or his breath was on her neck, he couldn’t bear it. It made him squirm in his seat and in his chest. He squeezed the pencil in his hand wanting to break it and stab the man in the eyes with the splinters. He wanted to cut the actors tongue out for saying the words he was employed to say.
He wanted to jump onto the stage and perform the lines instead of watching this poor imitation. Because if it was him, it wouldn’t be a performance, it would be a reliving, it would be a confession, it would be a self portrait. He knew the words would be said with the same thrust and the actions would be just as instinctual and authentic as when he said and did them before.
Greater than that desire was the need to not let him near her. He knew, if he quieted his emotions to let himself think for a second, that the actress wasn’t really her, but the actress represented her. He didn’t want any other man near anything that was at all a part of her. It made him mad with jealousy that someone else could see her expressions and hear her wonderful soul and dance the waltz of dialogue with her that he had danced.
But here they were, the actor and actress, building their pseudo relationship in front of him. He sat with a real rage building inside him in direct correlation to the fake, staged relationship. The scene was set, the outcome defined, each movement contrived yet he watched locked in suspense. Each line stacked on the last, constructing the tower which had a simple kiss on its pinnacle. He felt a constriction in his chest as if he were running up the steps to the top of that tower. He couldn’t catch his breath, but the scene continued mercilessly, recklessly. Finally, the actor leaned down to kiss the actress on her forehead as she sprawled out on a chaise lounge, head thrown back.
“Don’t touch her!” he shouted, shooting up from his seat, isolated in the empty theatre.
“Sorry?” the actor said.
He sat back down, rubbing his head, feeling the heat of embarrassment. He breathed easier feeling the relief of having dodged a bullet. How had he let himself become so naked?
The actor and the actress waited for his instructions.
“I’m sorry, this scene may need a rewrite.”