Offers of leading roles, and post that left a steady tumble of scripts from the fringe, had all but dried up. She felt cast redundantly adrift. Avant-garde is all well and good in your twenties but in your fifties, well, it’s just silly. Now, well past that half-century, her most memorable lines were reserved for appraisals of her distinctly conventional peers who by some incomprehensible twist of fortune, still had careers.
In need of distraction, she scanned the ‘What’s On’ pages for a matinee performance which she knew, with unwavering modesty, that her own special brand of je ne sais quoi would have inestimably improved. She looked for something easily devoured and spotted a critique of, ‘‘The Spat’: a one act exploration of love, life and crisis across generations.’ The repetition of ‘middle-aged’ in the review seemed to Lilian a little overworked.
What really caught her eye was its leading lady: Christina Kirsch. Yes. Christina. The woman who’d stolen Lilian’s third husband and then quickly dropped him for a new version with more expansive spending habits. Lilian had never truly loved Tom, but he’d been sweet, and she’d been fond of the attention. But her Art had always come first. She’d been preoccupied with that season’s emancipating masterpiece, ‘The Booty of Boudicca.’ A tasteful all-female ensemble. It liberated her so entirely that she liberated Tom right out her life and into Christina’s attentive arms. Lilian hadn’t taken a fourth husband and now she’d outgrown the impulse to do so. Though, she did miss the relief from the tiresome business of having to be financially autonomous but knew it to be a small sacrifice.
Lilian recalled Christina’s most recent marriage to serial adulterer and hugely successful director, Jack Pensom. It had been in the minor league celeb pages and she’d thought it too lowbrow to delve any further than the headlines. But now… There she was. Christina Kirsch. Out there, treading the boards for all to see.
Lilian purchased two tickets, mid-way along row C. She relished a chance to reacquaint herself with Christina’s work. She’d enjoy a little drama.
If vapid is your thing, then the play was acceptable. Christina was in full throttle soliloquy, driving the rising action to its totally predictable reveal, when she saw the wry smile of her old rival out there in the third row. It was hard to miss when Lilian was out of her seat, coat and large handbag over her arm, excusing herself emphatically, to each of the audience made to stand as she passed along the row.
‘I’m terribly sorry. So sorry, but would you mind? I can’t quite… Thank you so much. Thank you.’
Lilian had ordered a voluptuous bouquet of flowers to arrive at Christina’s dressing room after the performance. Lilies, of course, with a note that said. ‘Jack couldn’t make it but sends his love.’
Born in London, Pam knapp now live on the South Coast of England and she loves that nature sits patiently on her doorstep without her having to reside in the wilderness. Her recent work can be found in In Parenthesis and Dreich and Owl Hollow Press.