Well, I exaggerate! It wasn't Hamlet. But as you will see I was indeed on stage, in front of the audience, and I was playing the part of a wife or girlfriend, entwined in the arms of my male half, and snuggling up. And I got away with it.
A bit of background. My friend R--- met another girl called F--- while in hospital early last year. And since then R--- (sometimes with myself) has made several trips to see F---. In fact F--- is a member of more than one group of friends, and yesterday evening six of us got together in Winchester, it being F---'s birthday. R--- and myself were introduced to J---, and another friend named R--- from Guildford. So that's two entirely new friends!
We enjoyed a lovely meal out at the Bangkok Brasserie in Winchester, then, for our entertainment, we went off to the nearby Discovery Centre to see the acts featured in this month's Barnstormers Comedy Night. That's three stand-up comedy acts linked by a fourth comdian who warms you up and holds the show together. A Northern comedian, naturally.
F--- hadn't known for sure that J--- and Guildford R--- would be coming, and so she only secured four tickets in advance. J--- and Guildford R--- had to wait around and see whether there would be any last-minute booking cancellations. So four of us went on ahead and got seats towards the front, although not on the front row. (You positively don't go there, when a Northern comedian is looking for easy victims in the audience)
J--- and Guildford R--- still hadn't come in as the show began. The comedian got into his stride, and lacerated a social worker in the audience who dared to be clever. Then some latecomers came in. A party of Australians. They took the predictable droll comments about the Aussie cricket team not doing very well with good grace. Then J--- snuck in, followed by Guildford R---, and they had to occupy two spare seats at the side of the auditorium that could well be considered part of the stage (the place was packed, and there was nowhere else to go). Their entry - and their seating position - could hardly be more obvious or exposed. Did I say that J--- had come in 'Bob' mode? Well, they looked like a couple, and the Northern comedian turned his wittiness upon them.
However, when asked what 'he' did for a living, J--- was equal to it, and immediately fired back that 'he' was a 'masseur', adding that he charged only £50 for 'additional services'! A complete fib, of course, although J--- did have a build that mildly suggested it could be true. And it got a laugh. Meanwhile Guildford R--- had began to snuggle up to J--- as if they adored each other. That got them a huge amount of attention, amazed the rest of our little party - and gave the comedian plenty to comment on, in the way Northern comedians like to. But of course Guildford R--- and J--- were not an item at all: it was all a big joke at the comedian's expense.
It would do no harm to embellish the joke. So in the first interval, J--- asked me whether I'd be willing to pull the comedian's leg a bit further. What about swapping with Guildford R---, to make it look as if 'he' were a serial womaniser? Blatant wife-swapping!
That brought an instant knee-jerk 'No way!' from me. But then I reconsidered. Why not? I was more than merely passing. Like everyone else in our little party I was being taken for granted. I was in a smart skirt and top, with nice shoes and my hair looked good. I was minded to take a risk, even to the extent of being scrutinised by an entire audience, and swapping banter with a ruthless comedian. Why not? A test. Did I have the bottle? Yes!
So after the interval, it was J--- and myself that now occupied those seats on full view to all. And we played our parts to the hilt, just as J--- and Guildford R--- had done. The audience gawped. Here are two shots that will give you some idea of how J--- and Guildford R--- (and therefore myself) had appeared to the audience - and how the audience looked to us from those seats. (They're duff shots with blurred faces, but that very defect means I can use them)
See what I mean? No hiding place! It could be a nightmare waiting to happen. And self-inflicted!
On came the Northern comedian again. He didn't seem to notice the 'wife swap' at first. We snuggled up, and cuddled like billy-o, and looked at each other with shining lovers' eyes. All play-acting, of course, but it had to look authentic.Then the comedian did notice. He did a double-take that was a joy to see. Not often you throw a Northern comedian! He handled it pretty well. He obviously realised he was being set up, and didn't want us to become a fascinating sideshow. So after a quick comment directed at J---, we were left alone. We did our utmost to cuddle, and look loving, but all to no avail. And thus I survived.
Guildford R--- had her seat back after the second interval, and had no better success. The comedian wasn't going to react. Although I'm sure the audience hadn't seen through the deception, and were still puzzled!
I was well pleased. It just showed what you can do if you dare. It boosted my confidence sky high. I knew now that I could face a crowd and not be denounced!