Michael Mell hated technicals with a burning passion. This wasn't unusual, most people hated technicals; but was pretty sure he hated them the most.
Or second most.
The actual person who hated technicals the most was Christine Canigular, their leading lady, who's eyes had lost their usual spark, and who's hands and feet were starting to jitter and jump all over the place like they did whenever she was about to go on for her fist cue.
Christine was the best actress Michael knew. Best actress Michael knew of, and probably the best actress he'd ever see. He had witnessed Christine go from a mad emotional wreck on stage, to bouncing up and smiling within a minute; he'd seen her face show emotions he didn't even know existed, and her Juliet had made his cynical best friend believe in love.
However good an actress she was though, Christine was not good with technicals. Normally her stage presence helped the other actors, made everyone else better; but not in technicals. Christine had been saying the same line for about twenty minutes, while Susanna (affectionally nicknamed Squip, or Squippy by most people) changed their mind about how much light they wanted.
Michael changed his mind about how much he wanted death.
The Mad Muffin Theatre company were a month away from opening at Edinburgh Festival with the Merchant Of Venice, and Squip was getting angstier and angstier each day. Michael wasn't entirely sure why they were so panicked though, yeah, Chloë occasionally forgot her lines, and yeah, the students who were volunteering in tech occasionally missed a sound cue or a lighting cue, but that was what this rehearsal was for. Technical stuff. They were pretty much perfect.
Unfortunately they still had the rest of the technical to get through, and Christine was no longer the wise and witty Portia she normally was when she stepped onto the stage. Michael shoved his hands deeper into his hoodie pockets and watched as Christine said
"your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by, to hear you make the offer."
"It's a funny line," they said,
"And I don't want it thrown away.."
Christine nodded weakly, and fiddled with the bracelet around her wrist.
"But then again, this scene is crucial, and it would be odd for a spotlight to fall on you, even if it was like a tab.."
Michael groaned under his breath, and Jeremy was ordered to say his line again. Jeremy was playing Bassanio, Portia's husband, and his character's (Antonio) crush. The scene they were rehearsing was the courtroom scene, where Shylock was going to take a pound of Antonio's flesh for not paying him back, and Portia was disguised as a man to try and get him off.
Michael stood up a little straighter as Jeremy turned to him, and began to speak
"Antonio, I am married to a wife
Which is as dear to me as life itself;
But life itself, my wife, and all the world,
Are not with me esteem'd above thy life:
I would lose all, ay, sacrifice them all
Here to this devil, to deliver you."
Michael let himself swoon, this was a big deal to Antonio, this was as close to a declaration of love as he would get, even though Michael knew this was just a play. Just a play, just friends...
The lights went down, and a spotlight fell on Portia, who said dryly to the audience
"Your wife would give you little thanks for that,
If she were by, to hear you make the offer."
Squip clapped their hands together, and the lights came back on. Everyone groaned. Madeline, who was playing Nerissa, tossed her hair dramatically,
"Squippy, we have been rehearsing this scene all afternoon. Please make a decision, I have evening plans, if you know what I mean."
Michael wrinkled his nose, he did not need to hear about Madeline's sex life. Anyway, it was only ten to five, and normally they didn't finish 'til six, so..
"You see," Squip went on,
"I don't think it was meant to be an aside, but I want the joke to be obvious..."
Christine nodded, and Michael tried not to loose the will to live.
"Leave the spotlight!" decided Squip, clapping their hands together and nodding at Christine to continue.
The entire cast exhaled with relief, and Michael nearly pushed his hood back down. Nearly. He didn't need Sqippy to see the movement and start yelling at him to stay in character.
Two hours later they had finally stuttered through 'The Merchant Of Venice" and Michael was out in the cool dark Edinburgh evening, watching his best friend (and longterm crush) awkwardly invite his own longterm crush out for drinks.
The cast normally got after rehearsal drinks together every other Saturday, and separately on all other days. Michael and Jeremy would go to Konbo, this Japanese-Scottish café thing where everything was cheap and you could play vintage Japanese games while you drank Irish coffee.
Christine probably liked The Hanging Bat, or somewhere else that was cool and full of hipsters.
Still, if Jeremy was going to ask Christine out, Michael wasn't going to stop him. In fact-
"Hey Rich-" He yelled, and the slightly shorter guy whirled around to face him.
"Alright Mick?" He said, and Michael grinned at him.
"You want to get a drink? Then maybe.."
"Michael Mell." He said, as Jeremy gave Christine a smile that made Michael die a little more inside.
"What great ideas you have these days."