I was having much too jolly a time at the Edinburgh Fringe, so I went to see Race, by David Mamet. ‘It’s terribly good,’ someone told me, although everyone was constantly telling me things: that this was the show that I simply couldn’t miss, that Scottish notes would be accepted back in London, that a sandwich was only £2.50. I had begun to walk about Edinburgh with my hands in my pockets and my head down, only occasionally raising my head to check if my friends had noticed how well I had adapted to being at this friendly and inclusive festival.
We were put into the front row, which my friends were possibly more pleased about than I was, having the type of face that renders many conversations obsolete. (I try not to let this stop me). I like to experience my theatre from the safety of the nosebleed seats (or a box, if anyone is offering), safe from censure. As it turned out, Race was terribly good, although I was firmly convinced that it was set in apartheid South Africa, so thought the American accents of the cast was some sort of theatrical attempt at levity. It wasn’t, so I was pleased I hadn’t laughed. (Other occasions this week I was happy to have not laughed: when my cleaner told me she had quinsy, which I thought was a typo, but turns out to be a real, genuine illness; when someone mispronounced ‘miscegenation’ and it turned out that it doesn’t rhyme with ‘rice-e-nation’, as one might hypothetically assume; when my friend told me that her best childhood friends were horses, which I would usually have mocked roundly, except that until I was four my very best friend was called Melon, and lived in the curtains, and we would have continued together very happily indeed, except for my Mother’s infuriating insistence on asking my teacher if she could invite him to my birthday parties, which I actually think says more about the type of pre-prep school my parents sent me to than my own ability to make human friends).
Looking back on it, I behaved very well during Race, nodding along sagely as the drama evolved, maturely pretending to ignore the actors’ naïve attempts at South African accents and only whispering to my friend once that ‘she was very good at fake crying’. But as it turned out, all my grown-up posturing was superfluous, because another of my friends, who had been enjoying an equally jolly time at the festival up til then, felt at that moment it all catch up with her, and put her head down to have a quick nap.