Dinner opened tonight. The house was nearly full. Max was surprised. He thought nobody would come to the opening night.
Max thought he was prepared, He arrived at the theatre in good time. He got his make up applied, sucked Fishermen's Friends, went through a line and cue, thought of how the last time he had performed at MITP, his mother was still alive and his father had refused to come and watch him play Malvolio.
Three minutes into the play, Max was in trouble. His heart missed a beat, then two, then it started to beat into his ears like a Burundi drum. Max could not hear what was being said. His shirt soaked within seconds. Sweat came down his forehead and stung his eyes. White light sparked the back of his retina. Max blinked, soldiered on, walked through his lines, trying to think of what's next, the next line, the next cue, the next second of respite. An hour and thirty minutes into the play, Max lost the plot totally and was left holding a tea bag and looking at Page. His mind was a blank sheet of text, and he squinted to make out a word or two. Then he spluttered back into life and clung on till the end. When the curtain call came, Max tried to avoid looking at the audience. There was rapturous applause.
Max apologised to his fellow actors and tried to tell them about his near death experience.
Frank, the director, asked him whether he was always miserable about everything.
Max tried to tell Frank that this was not depression, this was not a prima donna hypochondriac attack, this was a fucking near heart attack on stage.
Max found it difficult to talk to anyone after that.
He left the party early and drove home through a night of dew and dangerous roads.
Max wonders if he is really a miserable git, or whether he is going to die soon.