In the foyer, Freddie was also dealing with someone covered in goo. Stewards flew around waving paper towels to try and wipe the lady mayor down but she batted them away, grabbing the clothes and doing her best to both clean and appear regal.
“My clothes are ruined! What the hell are you doing playing a trick like that?” she demanded.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know what happened. I mean, this isn’t part of the act. At least it wasn’t in rehearsal.”
“You don’t know? What sort of place are you running here if you don’t know when you plan to drown an audience member?”
“I mean I know it isn’t part of the show. We might throw a little bit of glitter around, but we don’t mess with the audience.”
“Well you messed with this audience member, and when I get back to the office, I’m going to suggest that the council messes with you and this place”, she replied, waving a hand around to emphasise the point.
Freddie pleaded, “Please, this isn’t fair. Look how much fun the audience was having. I mean we’re doing so much good work here. You can’t let one little accident ruin things.”
“One little accident? Look at the Mayoral chain, it’s solid gold you know. It’s going to have to be professionally cleaned up. That’s council tax payers money you know.” She held the offending item under his nose just to make clear how bad things were. Freddie did start to wonder if it was real gold, as he thought he could see parts peeling off, but thought better of saying something.
“Perhaps I can get one of our tech team to have a look. They are really quite competent.”
“Really? They don’t seem to be able to nail down a giant pot do they?”
Well, I mean, I’m sure we don’t know how this happened.” He paused and then said triumphantly, “There will be an investigation!”
The mayor didn’t look impressed. “Oh great, an investigation. I’ve worked in local government for 30 years. I know how much use ‘an investigation is. I don’t want things investigated. I want to know who did it and then fire them.”
“Fire them, your honour? Surely we should work out what happened first.”
“What happened,” the mayor replied angrily, “is that someone tried to drown me with a vat of what tastes like a mix of wallpaper paste and flour. If drowning the civic party isn’t cause for a sacking or two, then I don’t know what is. And, as for the funding for your little theatre, that now needs some serious consideration too. Now get out of my way, I’m going home. I feel a long bath is required.”
“You don’t want to stay for the second half?” Freddie found himself saying weakly as the party stormed out of the front doors.
Watching them go, he didn’t notice Gareth appear beside him.
“Good news old chap. I’ve managed to sweet talk Tracey into carrying on.”
Still starting at the now closing doors, Freddie replied, “Going on. What do you mean?”
“Well, she was pretty shaken up the poor thing.”
Freddie turned around, “Shaken up? She’s shaken up? I’ve just been told we’re all for the sack and I’m supposed to worry about your office girl getting a bit mucky?”
“Steady on Freddie. I mean Tracey has pulled a blinder to get the show on the road. Without her, we’d not even have a show to open. I know this is a bit of a shaker, but I’m sure things will be fine. You know what ladies are like, they will calm down again I’m sure.”
“You don’t understand. This is bad. Really bad, but what’s worse is that the ticket sales aren’t as good as they usually are. I don’t think Sparks is as big a draw as we hoped he would be.”
Gareth looked at the busy bar. “Surely not. I mean this place is packed. You must have flogged loads of tickets”.
“Hardly any. For the first couple of shows, we give freebies to the council staff and local schools. None of this lot has paid a penny.”
“Oh. Why do you do that?”
“Well, we like to get a good crowd in for the first shows so there’s some word of mouth. It gives the cast a chance to get used to a full house and when the critics come in, it all looks better. The whole thing’s a sham though. In two nights’ time, we’ll be lucky to have a hundred in.”
Gareth looked shocked. “You didn’t say. I mean that’s terrible.”
“That’s showbiz. All smoke and mirrors. Never let them see you cry.” Freddie tried to laugh and then just put his head in his hands.
In the distance, a bell went to announce the second half would be starting.