continued from Issue 23…
In the auditorium…
Gladys: Wow! How long were those lights off? I didn’t even notice anyone leave.
Sheila: Well, it was dark when we came back from the refreshment table: perhaps they slipped out then. Lord knows, I wouldn’t blame them! Dropping adverts into the narrative of a classic piece of literature was never going to be to everyone’s liking!
Gladys: True. I wasn’t in a hurry to get back myself. Open those curtains and have a look outside. Maybe there was a fire drill and we missed it.
Sheila: No, there’s no-one out there. That gale certainly shifted the fog, though. It’s as clear as a priest’s conscience.
Gladys: Still a bit murky then?
Sheila: Ha, funny! Oh, there must be a classic car meeting in town. There’s a Ford Anglia and a Morris Marina in the car park.
Gladys: Nice! My first car was a Marina. Did nought to sixty in a minute and a half. Hang on…does this place look different to you? That stage curtain looks brand new.
Mavis: It does look a little strange. The paintwork’s gleaming and the walls look freshly decorated, yet the chairs and curtains look old-fashioned. It reminds me a little of my schooldays.
Gladys: Not only that, but have you seen the posters on the wall: from Hendrix over there, to one promoting a forthcoming tour by Gilbert O’Sullivan over here.
Sheila: Oh dear! There’s one advertising a Glitter Band gig. “Bring the kids” it says. That can’t be good!
Mavis: Where’s that?
Sheila: Over there, by the rear entrance.
Mavis: No, I meant where’s the Gilbert O‘Sullivan poster?
Gladys: Just behind you, Mavis.
Mavis: Oh, yes. This brings back memories! I went to see him at the Festival Hall in London. Yes, here it is. The first date of the tour, May 1973. Good Lord, was it really over forty years ago?
Sheila: Apparently not, if you believe the calendar on the wall. According to that, it doesn’t happen for another five months!
Mavis: What? Where?
Gladys: It says, December 1972. This is getting weirder!
Mavis: Yet hauntingly familiar…
Gladys: What’s that, Mavis? Wait…the audience are coming back. Good Heavens!
Sheila: Dear God! What are they wearing? I’ve never seen so many flares since the last time I watched Titanic! And look at the size of those shirt collars – a slight breeze and they’ll take off!
Gladys: Okay, what’s going on? Mavis, have you arranged some sort of themed, fancy dress thing for the breaks between acts?
Mavis: I can assure you, I wouldn‘t have arranged this!
Gladys: Then you must have planned it, Sheila.
Sheila: Why on Earth would I go to all this trouble? I’m as mystified as you are!
Lil: Ladies! Ladies! Everything’s cool, girls. Just chill out and tune in to the vibe.
Mavis: I beg your pardon?
Lil: I said relax, man, and go with the flow. Now, hush yourself, the play’s about to continue.
Gladys: Lil. Lil! Are you all right?
Lights down, curtain up…
Narrator: Scrooge awoke to the chimes of a neighbouring church striking the four quarters. He listened for the hour. To his astonishment, the heavy bell went on from six to seven, and regularly up to twelve. Twelve! It was past two when he went to bed. The clock was wrong. Immediately, he resolved, at his first opportunity, to purchase the new Pulsar LED timepiece, available for only twenty-five pounds from Rumbelows.
Sheila: Blimey! It doesn’t sound any better in the seventies.
Gladys: Okay, ladies, enough is enough! I like a joke as much as the next person – more so, in fact – but what’s the deal with the seventies “vibe”, as Lil would have it?
Lil: Gladys, baby, maybe we’re not supposed to understand it, just riiiide with it. Now come on, honey, let’s get our grooooove on and it will all become clear.
Sheila: Lil! You’re mumbling again? You’re showing us all up!
Gladys: I can assure you I have as much groove on as I’m likely to have at my age, thanks very much! I’m not saying it’s badly done. The attention to detail is quite commendable, but I feel we’ve moved on from weird and we’re now entering the ever-so-slightly scary!
Mavis: I don’t want to worry you any more than you are already, Gladys, but I think it’s about to become significantly scarier. You see that girl in the second row, over to your right?
Gladys: The one in the flared jeans and tank top, about fifteen years old? Do you know her?
Mavis: She’s seventeen actually…and, yes, you could say I know her. Her name is Mavis Wilkins.
Sheila: Mavis Wilkins! Wow! What a coincidence! Wasn’t that your maiden name, Mave?
Mavis: It was…and it’s not a coincidence. That is to say, that isn’t another girl with my name…it’s me!
to be continued…