The night of the Petersburg Neighbourhood Dramatic Society’s performance had arrived.
Felicity Trangle was director and running late.
The motley group of shopkeepers, teachers and retirees had worked tirelessly from lunchtime to transform the John Ridge Community Hall into a Shakesperian wonderland.
The Prince would be wandering around in a landscape of fruit and veg boxes from the supermarket, but at least there was a stage.
“Isn’t it wonderful!” Brian Peterson breathlessly caught Felicity up in his arms.
“Great work Brian.” Awkwardly wriggling out of the retired English teachers grasp, Felicity took the scene in.
Margo and James Twisk were over by the paper bag foliage. Margo had convinced her husband to wear tights. She seemed giddy as a teenager. James, not so much.
Backstage Antonio Maras and Josephine Blanche were no doubt involved in another octogenarian tryst.
What had begun as a local book club at the library had escalated. Felicity allocated leader. She had mentioned she was currently taking an online writing course through Oxford University no less.
“Felicity! You’re late!” A large woman dressed in a homemade cacophony of tinsel stapled onto a leotard and tights rushed past Gina Rasp, the librarian knocking her into the paddling pool moat.
“Sorry Janice, had a bit of trouble at the bank.”
” Are we a full house, my dear? All tickets sold?”
Felicity rolled up her tote bag and stuffed it into her coat pocket.
Janice’s heavily powdered face carefully scrutinised Felicity.
“You know, perhaps some of your literary friends will attend? I’m sure one or two professors?”
Felicity noticed Janice had over applied her lipstick. It was stuck to her teeth like a greasy patina.
“I’m sure. But you know, all so busy…”
“Let us see the numbers.” Janice’s booming voice had attracted several of the group over. Their faces anticipating a run worthy of the West End.
The whole room was listening now.
“I sold them all. It’s a full house.” Felicity picked up the ice cream container float and gave it a shake.
Sure enough, people began arriving. The audience was as an unusual mix as the cast. Several families eating ice creams, homeless people with blankets and a busload of Chinese tourists.
“Wheres the sausages?” A large man with five kids in tow barreled over to the group.
“Excuse me, Sir, this is a Shakesperian Production. There are no sausages in Hamlet!” Janice’s eyes flashed.
Several of the audience had climbed the stage and were rummaging in the boxes. A group of students took some and left.
“Heres your fiver this isn’t worth it. You said there would be food.” The tanklike man turned to Felicity.
“She said there were sausages!” A kid screamed and pointed.
“What is going on!” Janice was screaming almost as loud.
“Ok! I admit I paid these people to come. No one wants to see us act. They just want free food!”
Brian put his arm around her.
“For gods sake, not now, Brian! Actually, not ever, Brian!”