Friday night. We're at Almost an Evening, the Ethan Coen play, at an intimate theater on Bleecker Street. Thirty-four-weeks along, Amy is experiencing the usual late-stage pregnancy issues, so we situate ourselves fairly close to the restroom, which, due to the layout of the theater, requires walking past the stage in front of the audience.
The play is three one-acts without an intermission. Amy excuses herself between the second and third. Unfortunately for her, the stagehands work fast, and the third act kicks in while she's away.
F. Murray Abraham and Mark-Linn Baker are on stage, engaged in debate as two gods. Abraham is in Moses garb: white tunic, moccasins, long flowing gray hair, beard. He is deep into a tongue-in-cheek monologue full of swearing.
Amy has to get back to her seat, so over she comes, stage right, past the front row and up to her third-row aisle seat. She wants to be invisible, but no luck.
F. Murray Abraham's monologue stops short. A glimmer in his eye, he glowers at Amy's back as she climbs the stairs. The room collapses in laughter.
There's a pregnant pause in the show, long enough for her to turn to me, nervously, and ask, "What's so funny?"
"He just glared at you," I say.
We look back at the stage, and a second later, Abraham is making eye contact with Amy.
"Was it something I said?" he bellows. The room cracks up again.
"No, really, I love pregnant women," he says. "You go anytime you want."
Abraham is still in voice but the play is fully derailed by now. Peals of laughter fill the theater. People are applauding. Abraham buries his face in his hands to hide his own smile.
He steps back to the podium, looks down, then around the room, and commandingly says: "Where was I!"
More laughter. Amy is about ready to die by now, but Abraham laughingly says, "I lost my place," then regains his rhythm and the show goes on.
The rest of the play was decent; the first act was the best, but the inadvertent cameo stole the show.
On the subway platform afterward, a woman with a light British accent approached us on the play, and asked with a smile, "So outside of your scene, what did you think?"
"For better or worse," I replied, "her scene was the funniest of the night."