The Mature Lady Wins

"Acting is the most public form of indecent exposure."

(Ruth Cracknell)

Rehearsal

"Oh for God's sake David, how many more times," Lionel wailed. "This is the high point when lovely Lady Primrose is offering you her beautiful body. She's hot for you and you're clinging together…you are lusting for her, your bodies intertwined, and what do you look like? I'll tell you, you look like one side of an archway. Look at Kath, she standing upright, she's even has her pelvis thrust forward, and you're arching away from her."

I was playing the role of Garth in the Wagaloo Thespian's production of the farce "The Mature Lady Always Wins," directed by Lionel.

The story was that Lady Primrose Grantly, an ex-chorus girl, who had married the wealthy and decrepit Lord Grantly (recently deceased), had a penchant for young guys, but at last she has met her fate in the sexy gardener Garth.

We had one more week of rehearsals and we were in the Wagaloo Memorial Hall rehearsing, and I knew I was making a mess of the role.

"David my treasure," Lionel continued, "you were sensational as the male stripper in "Girl's Night Out." Think of the brilliant critique you got in the Wagaloo Weekly Trumpet, so why…why…why…?"

"It's…it's difficult Lionel," I said.

"Yes…yes…yes…darling, we've been over all that before, Kath is your mother, we know all about that, but for God's sake sweetheart, you're supposed to be an actor so get on with it. Now try again and put some libido into it my treasure. She's beautiful…she's hungering for you and you…oh never mind, just do it again."

I'm not sure if I had been type cast for the role, but mum only sort of fitted the Lady Primrose character. I saw the ex-chorus girl as being a bit rough round the edges although attractive in a raw sexy way.

Mum is more your real Lady Primrose, tall with a superb figure, and gorgeous Grecian facial features – a real lady. But she was certainly doing of good job of Primrose, and I was spoiling it.

She's a good actor by local amateur standards and I have to admit that she'd really got into the role of Primrose. If physically she wasn't quite how I saw Primrose, she did have certain aspects that fitted her for the part.

For example, in real life she had married a wealthy – I won't say decrepit – older man who was now deceased. Of course he hadn't been a Lord – he'd got his money making and selling pet food, and by the time mother became his third wife he had a nice house with plenty of land round it in rural Wagaloo. In older times he'd have been a sort of local squire, but of course we don't go in for that sort of thing in Australia.

Dad as I said made his money selling pet food consisting mainly of chicken beaks, horse and cow hooves with some other doubtful things chucked and, and it was marketed as, "Healthy Pet Joy."

Mum had once wanted to be an actor, but had married dad too young for her career to get started, but she still hankered for the stage. When we moved to Wagaloo the Wagaloo Thespians had been struggling on for some years with audiences of at best a couple of dozen; most of them relatives of the actors .

To please mum dad started to put a bit of money into the Thespians and that meant at least two things.

First, mum got leading roles in the plays. Now I know what you're thinking, that mum only got the parts because of dad's money. That's only partially true because as I've said she really is a good actor, and at the time in question ("The Mature Lady Wins"), she was thirty nine but could and had played roles much younger than that very successfully.

For example, at age thirty eight she'd played the twenty one year old Lady Windermere in "Lady Windermere's Fan," and nobody questioned it.

In the play that I'd starred in as the male stripper, "Girl's Night Out," mum had played a twenty three year old woman who had been brought along by her friends to see a male strip show for the first time.

The second thing was, the local trades' people got a lot of business from our family, and so dad made sure that they advertised the plays and sold tickets to their customers. As a result, the Thespian's fortunes began to look up, and now consistently played to a packed Memorial Hall.

After dad died mum still supported the Thespians and they had continued to flourish.

In the current play I knew I was making a mess of the part, but it was the first time I'd had to play a love scene opposite mum.

** * * * * * *

Lionel stumped back to his seat in the auditorium, a look of despair on what he hoped was his aesthetic countenance, repeating, "Get on with it…just get on with it."

Mum whispered, "Come on David, there's really no need to be shy."

We went into our Lines:

Lady P. "Oh Garth, do you know how I long for you?"

Me."But your Ladyship I am only the gardener, and I would never presume…"

"Lady P."There can be no class divide where love prevails, kiss me Garth."

Here we were supposed to go into a clinch. I did my best. There was a groan from Lionel, but he didn't stop us.

Lady P."Strip me darling, look at my beautiful naked body."

I fumbled with straps that went over her shoulders and the dress that was supposed to slither down mother's body to the floor got hung up on her hips. There was another groan from Lionel.

After a bit of a tussle the dress did manage to descend hesitatingly to the floor and mother stood there in her panties and bras. I was supposed to start to undo her bras to reveal her breasts.

My hands were trembling; in fact the whole of me was trembling as I reached behind her back to unhook the bras.

"Oh no…no…no…" Lionel screamed, "how many times…how many more bloody times do I have to tell you, you know we arranged for the bras to unhook at the front, to make it easier, so why…?"

"Sorry Lionel…sorry…" I mumbled, "I feel so nervous I forgot."

"Just try that bit again," Lionel wailed, "and I plead with you…I beg of you get it bloody right this time."

Mum tugged up the dress and went into her line about me stripping her again. This time the dress slithered and I reached up to the bra clip – in front this time – and undid it. The bras were about to fall off, "Blackout" Lionel yelled. The lights went out and mum clutched at the bra cups to hold them against her breasts.

"Well at least you got that bit right, more or less," Lionel said in the darkness. Working light up," he yelped.

Mum had re-clipped the bras, the cast gathered on stage, and we stood there waiting for Lionel's further comments.

He seemed to have aged about out twenty years since the start of the rehearsal, and he had a look of desperation on his face.

"Well, my treasures," he said, in a desolate tone of voice, "it seems we have a first class potential bloody disaster on our hands. The seduction scene is the whole point of the play and if you screw that up – and you are screwing it up – we might just as well not bother. Now the rest of you can go, but you, David, stay behind and I'll try and teach how a seduction scene should be played."

Mum cut in quickly, "It's all right Lionel I'll rehearse with David at home I think I know how to get the scene to work."

I'm not sure if at that point mum did know how to make it work, but she knew Lionel's sexual preference, and if he had his way, teaching me how to play a seduction scene would it probably turn into the real thing.

"Oh, but Kathy treasured one…" Lionel started to say, but mum wasn't having it. "I'll show David," she said firmly, and it's hard to argue with mum when she gets firm.

"All right…all right," Lionel said, disappointment sounding in his voice, "It's the weekend, so for God's sake all of you, have those lines down for the Monday rehearsal – and Tina (stage manager) for God's sake make sure of that blackout. The vicar is coming one night and we don't want to provide him with sermon ammunition for the next six months about the decline in moral standards."

With that we were dismissed.

Riding the Nightmares

As we drove home mum said, "We'll work on that seduction scene tomorrow and see if we can't get you over your bashfulness, after all darling, it's only make-believe."

She was right of course, and after all, smelly Mrs. Casey had wanted the role of Lady Primrose and I couldn't imagine anything worse than getting into a clinch and kissing her.

I have to admit though, that Mrs. Casey came closer to my image of Primrose; you know, quite hippy and busty although her legs probably weren't good enough for her to have been a chorus girl. Mum's legs on the other hand would have made superb chorus line material.

I think the tension of trying to make love with mum on stage had tired me out because when I got into bed, it was "Blackout."

In the past when I was appearing in plays I'd often had nightmares. These usually involved appearing on stage not knowing my lines, with my flies undone or with my trousers missing.

The dreams I experienced in this play had me stark naked on stage, or alternatively mother naked, and as a result of her nudity I had an erection that the audience could not fail to see.

I had been offered and accepted the role of Garth before I knew that mother was to play Primrose. Had I known about mother playing that role I would have refused Garth and taken the role of Ted the butcher's boy who was in love with Myrtle, Lady Primrose's personal maid.

Myrtle was being played by Sadie Hodge who was sexy in a raw way and for whom I'd had a fancy for a long time; but she was engaged to Alfred Butterfield the local plumber, a big guy who was very jealous of any male who even spoke to Sadie. But if Sadie had been playing Lady Primrose we might have had a few interesting private rehearsals.

But it wasn't to be, and when mum told me she was playing Primrose I tried to back out of the role of Garth, but by that time the butcher's boy was being played by Gordon Friar.

When I told mum I felt a bit doubtful about playing the role of her lover she said, "Don't be so silly David, it's only in the last scene anything really happens between Lady Primrose and Garth, and you surely don't find me so unattractive that you couldn't make love with me for just a few moments."

And so being the typical insecure and ego ridden actor I took the role of Garth rather than not be in the play at all.

I have to say in all fairness, Lionel is a good director. The others in the play were doing quite well, it was me that was holding things up, and I knew it.

Came the Dawn

After a night of naked me and mum dreams, I woke wondering why I wanted it to be Sunday instead of Saturday. As the fog of night dispersed from my brain I remembered; mum was gong to rehearse the seduction scene with me.

Now here I must confess that my problems with the seduction scene went beyond the mere fact I was embarrassed because it was with my mother. No, let me put that another way. In that scene when I played the part of an arch, as Lionel would have it, even before I got near mother I'd got an erection. What it would be like if we had got into a close tangle could only be imagined.

Now I suppose that if I hadn't been so tired the previous night I would have masturbated to relieve the sexual tension I'd experienced on stage with mother. Not having done so, and after the dreams I'd had, I felt a sticky patch under me, and you can guess what that meant.

I contemplated for a while the possibility of suddenly contracting terminal cancer, or perhaps I could fake a stroke that had left me unable to speak, but I knew mum would see through my ploy – she always had when I was a kid and I tried to fake pneumonia or a broken leg when I didn't want to go to school.

Her usual response was, "Well, I suppose I'll have to take you to see the doctor and he can give you a needle." The suggestion of a needle always had a miraculously curative effect.

I knew I had to face the day so I got off the bed and did some under sheet maneuvering to try and get the sticky patch at the bottom of the bed. After that I showered and then having dressed made my way to the kitchen for breakfast.

Mum seemed very bright and breezy and she was wearing a dress almost identical to one she used in the play.

"As soon as we've finished breakfast," she said, "we can get down to rehearsing, but darling, you're clothes are all wrong. Remember, you're supposed to be the gardener, it's a hot day and you're only wearing shorts. That's what drives Lady Primrose nearly out of her mind, seeing your bare torso, so after breakfast go and change. We must do it properly."

"Do we have to do it all mum?" I asked. "Couldn't we just leave it and see how it goes at Monday rehearsal?"

"Darling," mum said patiently, "we open next Friday and we don't want Lionel having any more tantrums, and we've got the other actors to think of. Lionel is quite right; the success of the play depends on that last scene, so we've got to get it right."

"Now if it was Sadie Hodge playing my part you wouldn't be having these problems would you, you'd have her bras undone in a flash and…"

"Mum," I protested, "it's nothing to with Sadie Hodge she's…"

"Don't think I haven't seen the way you look at her," mum said brusquely. "You'd like her to play the role, I know."

"No mum…no…she's too young anyway."

"Oh, so I'm and old woman now, am I?"

"I didn't say that mum, you're not old, it's just that…"

I couldn't tell her why I found that scene so difficult to I gave up and said, "All right, all right we'll rehearse."

"Fine," mum said hotly, "and if it'll help you can pretend I'm Sadie."

"I don't want to pretend you're Sadie, and it wouldn't help if I did," I said vehemently.

"All right David, let's calm down shall we. We can take our time; work out the moves bit by bit. Now eat your breakfast and then go and get changed."

Developing the Character

After breakfast I returned to my bedroom. For the play I was wearing a pair of my own shorts and so I put them on and went to the lounge where we were to rehearse. Mother was waiting for me, sitting on the divan.

She patted the seat beside her and said, "Come and sit down darling; I think before we actually start the scene we'd better have a talk about it."

"Talk about what?" I asked.

"The characters sweetheart, we need to work ourselves into the characters. Of course, as you know an actor always begins by drawing on his or her own life experience, and if you are called on to portray things that go beyond your own experience, you try to draw on your observation of others."

"It's also a good idea to try and visualize what went on before the beginning of the play in the lives of its characters. For example, Myrtle the maid gives us a clue when she says to the butchers boy in the first act, 'It's so sad that someone as lovely as her ladyship shuts herself away in this great house and never sees anyone.'"

"Now that tells us that since the death of Lord Grantly, Lady Primrose has become something of a recluse. Then the maid goes on and says, 'It's a pity her ladyship has no children, she loves children and I'm sure she wants to have some of her own.'"

"So Lady Primrose lives an isolated existence and would love to have children. We know of course that she is drawn to the new, young and handsome gardener. At first she denies her feelings for Garth but in the last scene it is a warm day; Garth has taken off his shirt and Lady Primrose sees his young lithe body, and as we know she finally succumbs to her hunger for him."

"Yes, I said, we've already worked that out in rehearsal."

"Yes," mother replied, "but what happens after that blackout ends the play?"

"Well, we all line up with you and me in the centre and take a bow."

"No…no David, that isn't what I mean. You see, if we can visualize what happens in the life of Lady Primrose and Garth after the play ends, it will help us to deepen our performance."

"How?"

"Well," mother said thoughtfully, "at the end of the play Garth has undone the clip of Primrose's bra, so what happens next?"

"I've already said, we line up and…"

"Are you being deliberately dense, David?"

"No," I said somewhat offended."

"Then think…concentrate. Isn't it obvious that the bras join the dress on the floor, and her lovely breasts are exposed to Garth's gaze."

"That isn't in the script mum, and I don't think we could do that, not with the vicar coming to see…"

"I know it's not in the script you idiot and we don't have to actually do it; we're just trying to visualize what might have happened to them. What would you do if some attractive woman was standing in front of you exposing her breasts and telling you she wants you to make love with her?"

"I…er…I suppose I'd touch her breasts if as you say they're lovely."

"Well done David," mum said with a touch of derision. "And what would happen next?"

"I suppose they'd…er…they'd kiss, wouldn't they."

"Wonderful, my boy has got some red blood in him after all. And then what happens?"

"Er….er…I'm not sure."

"She's still got her panties on so surely he'd want to take them off, wouldn't he."

"Well, he might, but he might still be unsure."

"If he's unsure at this stage he'd have to be…oh never mind, let's say she takes them off and says, 'Why don't you take your shorts off so I can see your' – now I wonder how she would put it?"

"See your cock?"

"David, don't be so crude! She's a lady and…"

"No she's not; the script says that she used to be a chorus girl."

"Well…well…I still don't think she'd say that; she'd probably say 'See you burgeoning manhood.'"

"Oh, come off it mum, she wouldn't say something as corny as that."

"Mmm, you're probably right. Let's just say she indicates she wants to see his penis."

"And he takes his shorts off, or she does it for him."

"Yes, and then they gaze at each other; they are overcome with overwhelming lust for each other; Garth sweeps her into his arms and carries her to the divan, she opens her legs and…"

"Shouldn't there be a bit more lead up to that?" I asked.

"Yes…yes…I suppose there should be, but the point is David, are they in the grip of raw lust, or is their love genuine. Do they go on together into the future? Does Primrose have the children she wants with Garth? In other words, do the find true love with each other?"

"Does it matter since none of this is in the script?"

"Of course it matters David," mum said in an exasperated tone of voice; "Why else have we been…look, what we visualize as happening after the play ends determines how we portray our characters. Is she just a randy slut and he a horny philanderer; or are they two people needing love and finding it in each other? Can you see how this helps us deepen our performance?"

"No, not really."

Mum gazed at me in dismay for a few moments, and then she tried to speak; "I…I…we…oh God help me…"

I could see that mum was about to explode so soothingly I said, "Shall we do a little rehearsing now; you know, like you said, bit by bit?"

Bit by Bit

Mother gave a long sigh and said, rather like Lionel, "All right, let's get on with it. Now I'll stand here. I'm gazing at Garth's virile young body – well stand up David – I haven't been with a man for…oh I don't know, a long time, and I'm fire for Garth"

"Garth is overwhelmed by my beauty, but the class divide still stands between them; have you got that?"

"Yes mum."

"Do get into the character David…er…Garth."

"Yes mu…your ladyship."

"The audience is on the edge of its seats; will these two finally reach fulfillment or will they part for ever?"

"Don't stand right over there Da…I mean Darth…er…come close to me."

I edged a little closer to mum.

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