The light grew dim and conversation petered out. Blackness suddenly enveloped us. There was total silence. We all waited.
But nothing happened. Tension mounted.
In the darkness there was a nervous giggle, a shiver of expectation. My companion moved closer. I took a breath and tried to be rational. What could be the problem?
Two minutes dragged past. There was a stifled cough to our left and a drawn-out sigh from behind us.
Someone muttered, “Get on with it.” Sam took hold of my hand.
A rear door opened emitting a brief shaft of light before it closed.
Hurried footsteps clonked across the floor. A shadowy figure could be glimpsed exiting through another door before it slammed shut, cutting off sound and vision. What was happening? Anxiety grew and imaginary threats multiplied.
A low rumbling started, increasing to a deafening roar. Nuclear war or horrible joke? It stopped abruptly. Our fears mushroomed in the stunned silence that followed. Sam started shaking – I couldn’t tell whether it was with anger or apprehension.
Then a bright beam of light shone out from the front, blinding us.
“I have bad news,” said a deep voice. There were gasps. A strangled cry. Suddenly all the lights blazed on. A tall figure stood facing us with a torch in his hand – or was it a gun? Aiming at us. Was he a terrorist?
Paralysed with fright, we froze. Squeezing my hand, Sam whispered, “I’m scared too but we must stay calm.”
“Silence!” thundered the intimidator. “No-one is to leave.” We heard someone stumble whilst trying desperately to escape. “Stop!”
A shot sounded – hollow and deadly. Then the shocking thud of a body falling to the floor. As we were plunged into nightmare darkness again, a woman shrieked.
Confusion and panic ensued.
* * *
That week the Clarion reported: “A stunning new production opened at the Variety Theatre on Tuesday night. ‘Technical Hitch’ is an electrifying drama with echoes of Kafka, Beckett and Chandler. This is a powerful play that shocks and intrigues. The performance exceeded expectations. The audience were dazzled, their applause rapturous. During one of the most disturbing scenes, a member of the audience fainted but was soon revived. ”