Here we go again!

The bad news is that Juno the Dog has eaten my passport, and I am confined to the jurisdiction for the foreseeable. Under the circs, I felt that I might as well get back to blogging. Sorry.

By the way, Juno also ate the cover off one of my Christmas presents – a book called, rather inappropriately, The Intelligence of Dogs. I asked her whether it was any good, and she said simply that you can’t judge a book by its cover. She added that the whole subject made her sick.

Look on the bright side. Juno is now a Canadian, inside and out, and cannot under any circumstances be deported to the land of her birth (the United States). Even better news is that the puppy, in growing up, has moved on to passports and has not yet eaten my 2011 calendar. Which reminds me: in a little over six months, Linden House will be ready to start rehearsals, and we haven’t chosen a play yet. Time to get moving.

You may or may not have missed hearing from me. As I recall, I last spoke to you on the very eve of last October’s production of Blithe Spirit. I believe I was just heading off to opening night with fear and trembling in my little heart. And then – nothing! Silence.

You probably thought – with sadness or relief, depending on how these blogs have hit you – that I died of stage fright. WRONG! I have lived to blog again!

I apologize for dumping you like that. The truth is, during the run, I lost my ability to spell anything more complicated than my name, and I ran out of juice entirely some time during the cast party.Then I woke up next morning to find a pack of snarling clients snapping at my heels. Panic ensued, followed in short order by the annual horror of Christmas. It has been a breathless winter. In fact, only now, as the days lengthen, am I beginning to sit up and take nourishment.

Which brings me to the point. Linden House is looking forward to producing its fifth annual play in late October 2011. Before we begin the cycle, however – choosing the play, enticing the actors, buying the gin, and so on – I want to cast an eye back for a moment. Blithe Spirit was such a success! (All my best friends tell me so and, of course, I believe them.) What can we do to match it?

No, really. The audience liked our play last year, and no wonder. Noel Coward sparkles, and so did the cast! We were so fortunate in our actors – accomplished, hard-working, serious about comedy and very nice. There was the odd lurch, of course. That’s life.

A case in point. During the preview performance, Charles Condomine, sent offstage to look for salt and pepper so that the medium could cast a spell, couldn’t find them. (It turned out that someone had flung a newspaper down on the props table and covered them up.) He came back (rather defiantly and with a mad glint in his eye), brandishing a cream jug instead. Oh well, we “poured” instead of “sprinkling.” No wonder the spell didn’t work!

Then there were the inevitable flubbed lines. They’re always amusing. For instance, when I – as the medium, Madame Arcati – lifted a plate of sandwiches, demanding loudly, “What’s in these cucumber sandwiches?” My poor hostess was left to mutter confusedly, “Well cucumbers, actually.”

Still, speaking for myself, it was mad fun. I crashed monumentally to the stage a total of 18 times (including dress rehearsal) and remained unbroken, mentally and physically. I ate 32 increasingly stale cucumber sandwiches and choked only twice. Nightly, I danced across the stage – perhaps the correct word is “lumbered,” but I hope not. My hat fell off once, but my wig remained on my head for all eight performances. And every night the audience was still there after intermission. Now THAT, in this troubled world, is what I call happiness.

And we looked just BEAUTIFUL. All that snooping in the back of the closet and striding the Internet in search of sartorial flotsam and jetsam paid off. I particularly liked my evening dress with its pattern of peacocks and beaded fringe. As I danced myself into a coma (twice), I had the most delightfully drunken sensation of whirling and swirling. As for my companions, with their dinner jackets, beaded gowns, marcelled hair and martini glasses, they were elegance in action.

We had some drama, of course. When Edith the Maid fell ill shortly before opening, Daria Strachan came riding to our rescue from the Department of Justice where she masquerades as a lawyer during the day. Who says the government doesn’t serve the people? And she is so brave. First she accepted the role, and THEN we told her she had to sing in public. I must say, she took it on the chin. (I would have hanged myself.)

Anyway, enough of history. Let us look forward. The “artistic team” – ain’t we grand? – has met a couple times over the winter. Also, between walking the dog and throwing bits and pieces of raw prose to snarling clients, I have been reading plays. We haven’t yet made up what we like to think of as our minds. But we are close.

And then it all begins again. Reading actors, shopping for costumes, arguing about the set, feeding vital paperwork to the dog….

Stay with us, dear reader. There’s more to come.