Thursday, January 24, 2013

No Curtain

Last week, when blogging about missed entrances, I mentioned the fact that I once missed a curtain call. That wasn't quite accurate. There was no curtain involved.

In fact, most of the shows I have done in the last seventeen years have not involved a curtain. They have either been fairy tales performed outdoors or interactive murder mysteries performed around tables in a banquet room, dining room—or, in this particular case, on a patio.

It was the final performance of the first production of my first mystery script, The Last Cruise of the S.S. Minnow, at Dakota's Steak House in Simi Valley, California. Our previous performances had been in the second-floor banquet room, but on this particular night the banquet room had been booked for another function, and we had been moved to the patio at the back of the restaurant. This wasn't a problem. The weather was beautiful, as it nearly always is in Southern California. We had to make some minor adjustments for entrances and exits, but everything went just fine, right up to my death scene.

(I always prefer to play the victim. It means fewer lines to memorize.)

I timed it so that when I was shot ("by a .22 caliber revolver—a weapon easily handled by a man or a woman"), I would end up next to the buffet table. Then, when no one was looking, I could discretely roll under the table, crawl out the other side and into the shrubbery, then make my way around to the front entrance of the restaurant and hang out in the bar until curtain call.

At least that was the plan.

I was shot, I fell, and I rolled under the table—just as planned. I crawled a few feet, then, when I thought I could no longer be seen by the audience, I attempted to get to my feet, while still moving forward. In doing so, I learned a valuable lesson:

One should never attempt to move in more than one direction at a time.

I lost my balance, stumbled a few feet, and fell to the ground on my hands and knees. "That could have been worse," I thought, as I began to pick myself up. Dakota's was perched on top of a hill. I counted myself lucky that I didn't roll all the way to the bottom.

Then I looked down and noticed that there was something odd about the little finger of my left hand. It was bent to the side at 90-degree angle, and I could see a little bit of bone peeking out through a hole in the skin.

"That's not right," I thought.

There was hardly any blood and no pain. At the time, my only concern was how this would affect the show. At least I had no other scenes—just the curtain call. I picked myself up and made my way to the front of the restaurant.

One of the restaurant's owners happened to be in the foyer, talking to some of the staff. "Adam," I said to him, holding up my finger, "I'm afraid I've hurt myself."

"That's great!" he said, laughing. "What is it, plastic?"

"No," I said. "It's my finger. I fell on it."

He immediately stopped laughing and arranged for a staff member to drive me to the emergency room.

As it turned out, the finger wasn't broken (only dislocated), and I still felt no pain (only embarrassment). The doctor cleaned the wound, shot some anesthetic into it, popped the bone back into the knuckle, and neatly stitched up the hole. He explained that the reason I felt no pain was that I was in shock, and he gave me some powerful pain killers for later. They came in handy when I was awakened in the middle of the night by my finger screaming obscenities at me.

But for now, I felt fine. I had missed the curtain call, but I was damned if I was going to miss the cast party.

Especially when I had such a good story to tell.

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