The Savage Club

It's generally not a required part of a stage manager's job to check that none of the actors are drunk before the curtain goes up, which is why it comes as a complete shock to Philip when Heidi's policewoman stumbles onto the stage at the top of the second act, shirt half buttoned. It's not immediately apparent that something is wrong, but within minutes they've skipped two pages and she's giggling at every awkward pause. The other actors, to their credit, manage to roll with it - Philip can only sit and watch the trainwreck unfold, listening out for the next mangled cue line.

Heidi's fled by the time the house lights come up. Over drinks that evening, the shell-shocked cast's reactions range from barely-suppressed rage to a resigned disappointment. Philip sits outside to keep the SM company; she chain smokes while they put off calling the director, trade war stories, and lament the fact that you have to experience it in order to have it to tell.

The Savage Club

The Savage Club started as a dance hall in the '30s, with a laundromat on one side, and a late-night takeaway restaurant on the other. Roy's Burger Bar stank of fat from the deep fryer, but that didn't stop the Ladies of the Night wandering over from the brothel across the street at three in the morning, their petticoats bearing stains of more dubious provenance than that of the meat in the burgers. The Savages were allowed to be as loud as they wanted almost any day of the week, so it was perfect as a venue - far enough from the centre of town that it felt like a secret; close enough that the residents nearby were used to the noise.

The only time the club wasn't open was the first Wednesday of each month. As a condition of the lease, the building owners would ensconce themselves within its cozy confines, their activities opaque to even the most seasoned regulars. At midnight, without fail, they would totter down the front steps, all jowls and tweed, and disappear again. The Savages, for their part, refused to be drawn on the matter.

When Arthur Savage died, in the sixties, the club died with him. A theatre company took the lease, but kept the name. The rest of the Savages kept in touch with the new tenants at first but most, eventually, drifted away - the new black walls made them feel like they were still in mourning.

The ones that stuck around, though, found that the more things change, the more they stay the same. They don't hire the place out for weddings any more - you can't perform a wedding in a black box, even if they're theatre majors - but they still keep the mops in the last stall of the womens' bathroom, the chandelier in the foyer is still bright green, and there's still a locked door backstage that doesn't lead anywhere marked "off limits".

And no shows on the first Wednesday of the month, of course, but that's a condition of the lease.


Theresa's refrigerator has a door, and stuck to that door is a magnet, and wedged between the door and the magnet is a letter from her landlord explaining what, exactly, the door code has been changed to, as of this morning. She'd barely been here long enough to memorize the last one. She buzzes the apartment ineffectually for ten minutes, all the while entertaining increasingly tenuous strategies for climbing up to the first floor balconies and jimmying the bathroom window.

She messages her housemate: "do you know the new door code (sad face)".

An immediate reply: "they changed it?"

Theresa sighs.