Book Excerpt – Rehearsal Scene

“Should we get started then?” Maggie huffed. As if these delays were all Emma’s fault.

“Yes, definitely,” Emma said. “The tea things are all set now and we can deal with the rest of the props later.”

“Is there water in the pot?” Julia asked. “So we can work with drinking the tea?”

“I GOT IT!” Lucas came out of nowhere and swept the pot away downstairs.

The actors set themselves, while Emma pulled her coat over her shoulders and sat down with her script. They started rehearsal with one of the annoying parts where Algy and Cecily flirt in the garden. Emma was torn between enjoying Andy’s performance and wondering how much they were really acting. Megan was clearly into him — was he into her too? Was he even single? Or straight? Had Emma made a complete fool of herself during that last conversation, or just a partial one? How was she going to get to know him better when all they did every night was work and go home?

Rehearsal moved on, through more arguments and more flirting, until they got to the scene where Cecily and Gwendolen have tea. Frank brought out the tray with the pot, and stood behind the table that was between them.

“Shall I lay the tea here as usual, Miss?” he said.

“Yes,” Megan replied. “As usual.”

He set the tray down on the table, then he turned and walked back off stage.

“Frank.” Maggie called after him. “FRANK!”

It took him several seconds to recognize his name and turn around.

“What?”

“You don’t exit yet, dear. Stay out there with them.”

“But that’s my only line.” He looked totally perplexed. “I’m done after that.”

“No. No you’re not. You have to stay so you can hand Gwendolen her tea and cake.”

Frank sighed and walked back out on stage. The ladies gave him a moment to set himself, then went on with their lines. After they sniped at each other for a while, Megan picked up the pot and poured the water into a cup. She mimed dropping in sugar cubes, then primly handed it to Frank, who delivered it correctly.

Julia took it and drank, immediately spitting it out all over the stage. Gwen was supposed to turn up her nose at the excessive sweetness, but Emma guessed spitting was a valid choice, too. Whatever worked for the character. It took her a second to realize that this wasn’t part of the scene, that Julia was genuinely spitting and wiping her tongue.

“This is full of dust!” she exclaimed.

“Oh my god, I’m so sorry.” Emma ran up to look. Of course, these weren’t cups she’d taken out of a cabinet in someone’s kitchen. They’d been sitting in the filthy attic for god knows how long. They had to be washed first.

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