Always feel for actors when they've got an awkward stage set to move around. I mean is it not enough for them to have to remember their lines, their cues, the props and act all at the same time? Sloping stages always have me worrying for their ankles but sandy stages, well that's just a recipe for problems.
Ah, Wilderness! at the Young Vic has a sandy stage and the first time I saw it there were a few stumbles and wobbles. Last night Janie Dee properly fell over as she was trying to make her exit. The rest of the cast were, of course, pro's with George MacKay's 'Richard' calling out a concerned 'mom' while going to help her.
There was no limping or signs of injury at the curtain call so lets hope that means she was OK. But it wasn't the only mishap in last night's performance. The props seem to take on a life of their own.
In the opening scene Richard and his brother Arthur (Ashley Zhangazha) argue over a book that happened to have a pen clipped to its cover. In the tug of war over the book the pen went flying and nearly hit a man sat on the front row in the face.
Then later, during another scuffle, a chair tumbled off the stage landing at the feet of some people on the front row. But it is the person who got a lap full of water as Richard splashed about in pool during the plays final dramatic scene that I really felt sorry for.
During our first visit to see the play Poly and I were treated to some pieces of torn love letter landing at our feet and sand in our faces and I've since heard of incidents with the hoola hoop. For me it's part of the love of live performance, seeing the little trips and mishaps and little changes* that make it unique.
* First performance of Ah, Wilderness! I saw was in preview and its rare that I get a chance to see a play again later in its run to see what's changed. Most notable tweaks were to Dominic Rowan's drunken uncle Sid who leapt up and tried to bury himself in the sand when the fire cracker was placed at his feet which he hadn't done before. He then proceeded to give himself a sand bath. He also did an impression of an Irish jig when the family's Irish maid was serving and Richard's plunge face down in the pool was a lot more dramatic second time around.