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Fit for a Queen
by Oonah V Joslin

‘Have you done much amateur acting before, Janice?’

Maybe Sylvia hadn’t emphasised amateur but Janice took her meaning.

‘I once toured with the RSC,’ she replied tersely.


‘Yes. I understudied for Lady Macbeth, Portia, Titania and Cleopatra of course.’

‘Could you suck your tummy in just a bit, darling?’

‘This thing simply doesn’t fit and it’s never going to.’

‘I used the measurements you gave me. It’s a copy of one worn by Liz Taylor in the film version. Maybe you’re not exactly Liz Taylor shaped.’

‘And I suppose you are? Well, you must have done something wrong because it just doesn’t bloody fit.’ Janice pulled at the cups.

‘Well hold your hair on! I’ll see if I can let it out a bit.’

‘What’s there to let out, Sylvia? There’s barely anything there to begin with. How do you let out a pair of skimpy knickers, a bra and a belt with beads on? I may not be Liz Taylor but neither are you Isis Mussenden, dahling! I’m quite capable of making my own costume if need be.’

‘No-no-no-no-no. I always do all of the wardrobe and make-up.’

‘And that brings me to this!’ Janice ripped off the black wig that Janice had spent ages applying. ‘What is this – this – this stiflingly hot, dirty MOP supposed to be?’

That’s when the scene turned ugly and the men arrived to see what the commotion was. The were in a clinch.

‘Ladies, ladies!’

It took Mark Antony, both caesars, Flavius and a couple of stage hands to separate them. The air was blue with hieroglyphs. Sylvia screeched. Then Janice fainted.

‘Get Phil – he’s a medic,’ said Julius, fussing over her.

‘Should I call an ambulance?’ asked Octavian. ‘Shall I fetch the brandy?’

‘Just give us some space guys and get her some water,’ said Phil. ‘What happened, Sylvia?’

‘Nothing. We argued.’

‘What about?’

‘Her costume – it doesn’t fit.’

‘You didn’t hit her?’

‘NO! We don’t get on but I wouldn’t hit her. She just – flipped and then flaked out. She’s overwrought and emotional and it is the right size, it’s her that’s getting fat. She’s right about one thing though. She’s never going to fit into this Cleopatra costume. I’ll have to start over which is a real pain in the asp!’

‘She’s coming round,’ said Phil. ‘Do you know where you are, Janice? Do you know me?’

‘Phil. What happened? The costume…’

‘Don’t worry about the costume. You won’t be needing it.’

‘You’re dropping me from the cast?’

‘No – but I think you may have a change of role, Janice.’

‘What? Just because the stupid costume doesn’t fit…’

‘You see? There she blows!’ said Sylvia.

‘No, Janice. Because reading all the signs and unless I’m very mistaken -- you are going to a mummy!’