The Stand In

The Stand In.

By Angharad.

“Go on, you ask him.” Carol pushed Ray towards me.

“Why do I have to do it?” he hissed back.

“’Cos you’re a bloke–go on ask him.” I was standing in the backstage area unravelling a twisted cable from the sound equipment.

“Um–Rob, can you give us a hand?”

I should explain, this is the local theatre workshop, and we’re the local Am-Dram group. I can’t act–well never tried, but I like to be involved so I help as an ASM, untangling cables, painting scenery, doing prompts, finding props or even making them. General dogsbody, that’s me, but I quite enjoy it. There’s three of us two men and the lovely Harriet, locally known as Harry, we love her to bits or is it we love some of her bits–she had a wonderful bum and the most delicious breasts–but I digress. Carol and Ray are two of our leading actors, there’s about a dozen or more in the whole group, all with little talent and compensatory egos–to hear them talking you’d think it was Kate Winslet and Jeremy Irons.

“Er, Rob, can you give us a hand?” Ray repeated himself as I completed the unravelling of the tangled audio cable.

“Sure, what d’you need?” I assumed they wanted some prop or other. They were doing read through the next play.

“Er–Sharon’s gone sick and we need someone to read her part.”

“Isn’t Harry about somewhere, I saw her earlier.” My mind reran seeing her delicious breasts bouncing as she came down the steps from the dressing room, she saw me watching blushed and stuck out her tongue. I blushed but fell in lust for the umpteenth time that day.

“No she’s gone to town to collect some makeup she ordered last week.” Ray informed me, Harriet is our makeup expert.

“Okay, it’s just a read through though isn’t it?”

“We’re also working out stage moves.”

“Oh all right, but I’m just reading the part.”

“You’re a real trouper, Rob.”

I hate doing these things, I’m not very good at reading the men’s parts, so the women’s–I’m totally pants.

“Who am I reading?” I asked accepting the script they handed me.

“You’re Dawn, Hermione’s niece.”

“Hermione?” I sniggered, this was one of Dave Bradshaw’s plays–I expect you’ve heard of Dave, he’s like the Tom Stoppard of Guildford, had a couple of his things performed on Radio 4 and one was actually done for telly–paid for his new house.

I looked at the title, Midlife Crisis and my heart dropped, it was a farce, well it would be with these two doing the leads.

“We’re in Hermione’s country house and she’s trying to get rid of Dawn, so she can have a liaison with Rev Tubbs, the randy vicar, but Dawn, who is young and naívé doesn’t want to do any of the things Hermione suggests–okay?”

“Okay,” I sighed–riveting it wasn’t, it would probably make riveting, riveting if you take my drift.

“Dawn, dearest, why don’t you go and take these carrots down to the stables?”

“It’s been raining, Auntie Herm, and I’d get my little feet all wet.”

“Use your wellies, girl.”

“I left them down in the tack room, I’d get all wet getting them.”

“I’ll loan you mine.”

“But your feet are so much bigger than mine, Auntie H.”

“Look, Rob, I don’t wish to criticise but can’t you try to sound more like a young woman and less like a robot?” Carol did criticise–she was never happy.

“I feel a right nana already, and you want me to sound like Pinky and Perky?” I replied with feeling.

“More Miss Piggy,” suggested Ray, which made me chuckle.

To do that voice you have to do falsetto while keeping your throat open–Kermit is definitely easier. “But your feet are so much bigger than mine, Auntie H.” I said and my throat felt on fire. Ray fell about laughing and even Carol smirked. I picked up a bottle of water and took a sip.

“Right, Miss Piggy, do that line again,” said Colin the director, I didn’t realise he was here let alone listening.

There was no way I could do the open throat stuff again, it hurts too much so I just lifted my pitch a little and ended the sentence with a rise in pitch again. Okay it sounded more Sydney than Surrey, but Carol’s eyes bugged out.

“Do that again, Rob, that sounded wonderful.”

“What did?” I asked in the same voice.

“That is brilliant, Rob,” offered Ray, “You sound like a young woman.”

“I do?” I rolled my eyes and pretended to flick some hair from my face. Carol laughed out loud. My exhibitionist streak had obviously been liberated. I smoothed down an imaginary skirt and posed with my hand on one hip.

I looked at the stage directions, Dawn sashays sexily across the stage in her tight skirt and high heels. and burst out laughing.

“What’s so funny?” called Colin.

“This stage direction.” I pointed to the script.

“Give it a try,” he called back.

To start with I hardly have the hips and bum to sashay and in trainers and baggy jeans, it’s a lost cause. I gave it a try, mincing rather than sashaying. Carol tried to show me her more than ample derriá¨re swinging back and fore as she walked across the stage. I tried again–it was useless, or I was.

“What size shoe are you, Rob?” called Colin.

“Six, why?”

“And waist?”

“About twenty eight, why?”

“Be right back.”

“What’s all that about?” I said to Carol and Ray.

“Buggered if I know,” Ray shrugged his shoulders. Carol sat on the chair which was a prop we hadn’t quite decided where to place–it was supposed to be a drawing room.

“Here, slip these on,” Colin dumped a pair of red court shoes and skirt into my arms.

“What?” I asked horrified.

“Put them on.”

“I can’t–I mean, they’re women’s and...”

“So, you’re playing woman’s part–for Chrissakes Rob, it’s a theatre, we suspend reality inside here, so humour me, okay?”

“Please,” Carol smiled at me.

“Oh bugger,” I said and went behind a curtain, pulled down my jeans kicked off my shoes and socks, pulled up the skirt which only just fitted my waist and stepped into the shoes and blushing like a tomato on heat, clomped out onto the stage.

For the next ten minutes, Carol tutored me in sashaying, one foot in front of the other, swing my bum cheeks–why couldn’t they just wait until Harry got back, her bum is gorgeous.

We did the scene again–the one about the wellies and I sashayed across the stage in my tight skirt and heels, suddenly there were wolf whistles and loud clapping with shouts of ‘gerrum off’ as Harry walked down the auditorium and I nearly died from embarrassment.

She sat in the wings and watched us as we rehearsed for another hour, by which time my little toes were on fire–how can women wear these things–and my skirt was chafing my waist–it was too tight really.

When we finished, she said cheekily, “Can I have your autograph, Miss?”

“That has got to be the most embarrassing thing I have ever done, worse than being left tied naked to the town hall flag pole after the rugby club dinner. At least then I was blindfolded.” I said out loud to no one in particular.

“I think you look rather sexy, yeah, the right wig, some padding here and there, bit of makeup–yeah, you could make quite a leading lady.”

“Harry, be serious–it was dreadful.”

“I quite liked it,” she said licking her lips.

I nearly fell over, “You’re taking the piss aren’t you?”

“Want to find out?”

“This isn’t a big wind up is it?”

She grabbed my left hand in her right and rubbed it across the rock hard nipple of her right breast. “What d’you think?”

“I think I like it,” I said.

“Bring your skirt and heels round to my place, for eight and I’ll show you how to really sashay,” she pecked me on the lips and ran off giggling.

Now what do I do?

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