Tracey managed to lever herself half out of the container. Her body was covered in pale, sticky, goo. Spluttering, she made a final push and the jar fell forward. A tsunami of goo flooded out of it and towards the front of the stage. Too late, the town mayor realised it was heading her way. Unable to get out of the way, she was engulfed in a waterfall of paste that flowed around a now prostate Tracey struggling to stand up.
“Quick, get the curtain down!” bellowed Freddie. The stage hands were ahead of him and the scene was quickly covered and the house lights raised.
“Wow Freddie, that was quite an impressive scene,” laughed Gareth, “I say, Tracey is game isn’t she? I don’t think I’d like to be in the gunge like that.”
“It’s not part of the scene you idiot. Someone has sabotaged the show.”
“Yes. And we’ve nearly drowned the mayor. She’s going to be livid.”
Backstage, Tracey was incandescent with rage.
“What the hell happened there?” she bellowed at Sparks, “I did the trick like we rehearsed but that last pot was full of the most disgusting stuff I have ever seen. It’s going to take me weeks to get it out of my hair, and the humiliation…”
Even Sparks looked shocked. “Nothing to do with me. I don’t know how it got in there.”
“You’re the bloody magic man. Did you think it would be funny?”
“I told you. It was nothing to do with me. I thought it was all going well and then you appear covered in goo.”
The dressing room door flew open and Gareth appeared.
“Tracey, are you OK?” he asked, “Freddie tells me this wasn’t in the act.”
“No, it wasn’t. Someone filled that last pot up with all the crap from the slapstick scene. I’m bloody covered in it!”
She turned to face him and he had to stifle a smile as his colleague stood in her stage finery with lumps of what looked like weak porridge dripping off her.
“I’m sorry. It looked amazing. Are you OK though?
“I’ll live, but getting this crap off is going to take hours.”
Sparks interrupted, “Don’t forget we’re back on stage in 20 minutes.”
She turned to face him. “20 minutes? Bollocks to that. I’m finished with acting.”
Sparks looked horrified. “You can’t say that. We’ve got an audience out there.”
“Sod the audience. I’m covered in this stuff,” she paused and looked down at herself, “And I think it’s setting! The bloody stuff is setting!”
“Don’t be silly Tracey, it’s just the mush they use for the slapstick scene. Half the cast gets covered in it every evening. Twice a day if we have a matinee. They survive.”
Tracey fixed him with a steely gaze. Then a lump of goo dripped onto her nose. “I said”, she growled, “I’m through with this. I only did it to help you lot out and what happens? I end up in some gunge tank. Did you think it was fun to play a joke on the new girl eh, magic man?”
“Look, I said I’m sorry. I don’t know how the gunge got in the pot. And no, we aren’t playing tricks on you. You’ve done really well to learn the role in a week. Everyone is impressed. Even the tech staff and no-one impresses them.”
Gareth added, “Come on Tracey. We need to make this work, at least for tonight. I’m sorry you got a scare, and we will find out how this happened, but we’re relying on you. The whole theatre is relying on you. At least don’t make me go back and tell Kate we’ve failed.
“She’d be delighted. In fact she probably put the goo in the pot.”
“That’s not fair. She wouldn’t sabotage our project, no matter how much she disapproves. Anyway, can you see her pouring gallons of that stuff anywhere? It wouldn’t do her posh suits any good would it?”
Tracey stood and dripped. And thought. She had to admit that a mental picture of Kate manhandling a vat of stage gunge while in her sharp work clothes was funny. For a moment she let the thought float in her mind, and smiled.
“Tracey?” asked Gareth and Sparks in unison.
“Oh go on then. Sod off and let me clean up. The shower in this changing room better have some warm water and Molton Brown shower gel in it.”