10 Casting Call

After Mom left, Tina was ready to get back to trying to teach me about being Marsha. “Are you feeling better, Marsh?” she asked me. “Do you want me to start teaching you things?”

“Yeah, lots better, thanks,” I admitted. My head was still spinning, but it felt really good that both Chad and Tina knew about what was happening and were on my side. Or at least, Tina had a strong interest in making me comfortable in my role as Marsha. Telling her some of my old stories had been a strong dose of familiarity, and had calmed me enough to look at the next steps in this charade I was about to undertake.

Simply getting into the character of Marsha wasn’t going to be enough. I had to learn things that girls took for granted, and I only had a week. Clearly, I wasn’t going to become expert at them in that time; I was going to make mistakes. But as Mr. Condrin told us, audiences don’t notice most mistakes. They assume that whatever you do is what you were supposed to do, as long as you don’t make it obvious by reacting – you have to keep right on going. Nobody was going to know that I was really a boy even if they knew about the experiment. The idea that this particular thing had happened wasn’t likely to be the first explanation that would come to mind if I messed up. So what I needed was simply to become basically competent and fake the rest.

But at the same time, I needed to continue my college studies. I couldn’t have Marsha flunk out – that would be way too out of character, not to mention embarrassing. And I couldn’t afford to get too far behind in my own courses, especially those which were prerequisites for the courses I was going to be taking next semester once I became Marshall again. If I was lucky, she and I were taking some of the same courses, and I wouldn’t have too much extra work. Tina had confirmed that Marsha was pre-med like me, so the odds were in my favor.

It was time to find out. “Before doing anything else, Teen,” I said, “I need to check my courses. If Marsha isn’t taking the same ones I do, I’m going to have a lot of catching up to do.”

So we headed back to my bedroom and I looked for the relevant information. I was counting on Marsha having learned the same study skills that I had. Our guidance counselor had taught a summer course for rising seniors and my parents had made me take it. It stressed the importance of proper note-taking, and of reviewing and recopying ones notebooks. If Marsha had taken it, she would have brought her course notebooks home, and I could read them. Sure enough, there was a suitcase that she had obviously brought home for break. It contained a fair bit more laundry than I had taken home, but the important part was that there was a stack of notebooks in it.

“Organic Chemistry and Spanish 202,” I read from the first two. “Two out of two, a perfect match. That’s going to make things easy.” I glanced inside the first one and saw notes somewhat similar to the ones I remember taking, although in a much neater and of course feminine handwriting. At least it wasn’t going to be hard to read these. I reached for the next two. “European Literature? That’s different. And… Biology 201. Yes, clearly a Bio major.”

“Is that good?” Tina asked.

“Yeah, it’s not too bad. We have three out of four courses the same. I don’t see any logic notes, though.” At her blank look, I explained. “It’s a distribution requirement – you have to take courses outside your major, and the Philosophy department teaches a course on Boolean Logic, which is actually more math than philosophy, but counts. The EuroLit course probably means papers, though, and I’ve generally tried to avoid courses like that. I’m probably going to have to spend part of my break catching up on some of the reading.”

Under the notebooks were a couple of paperbacks Marsha must have brought home to read. Both were romances, which didn’t interest me at all. Evidently, my ‘sister’ and I had very different tastes in casual reading. I would have preferred a mystery or fantasy. Then something else caught my eye.

“Oh no,” I gasped, reaching for it. “I’d forgotten about this.”

“What is it, Marsh?”

I held out what I had found, a bitter taste in my mouth. “It’s a script for The Mousetrap. There’s this director at Piques, a senior, Alvin Tomlinson. He’s got a really great reputation, and I auditioned for both of his plays last year. Wasn’t cast in either of them. He’s doing Mousetrap…” I paused. Even if it wasn’t as painful as… well, everything else I’d lost, it still hurt. “He cast me as Paravicini. It’s a comic role. Not all that big, but it would have been fun… and now I’ll never get a chance to do it. We were supposed to have a read through the first day after break.” I threw the script back into the suitcase in frustration. “Damn it! It was my last chance to get him to direct me. He could have taught me so much!”

“But Marsh,” Tina started.

Then I realized what I had said. “I’m sorry, Teen. What should I have said, ‘rats’ or something like that?

“I’m not talking about that.”

“Oh, you mean that he’s probably going to be doing another show in the spring? Yes, but he’s doing Sweeney Todd, and I don’t have the voice to play one of the leads. I can probably get a role in the chorus, but it wouldn’t be the same.”

“Marsh, you’re not listening. Why do you have the script at all?”

“Because he gave it to me when he cast me, Teen. He came right to my dorm room and…” Then I got it. I didn’t have my guitar, and I had all of Marsha’s books and clothes. This couldn’t have been my script. But that meant…

With trembling hands, I retrieved the script and opened it. Sure enough, the name written inside the front cover was “Marsha Steen.” I thumbed through the pages, looking to see if any lines were highlighted. And found them. “‘Mollie’, I breathed, hardly daring to believe it.”


“Mollie. Marsha was cast as Mollie!”

“Is that good?”

“You don’t know the play?”

“No, “ she admitted.

“Well, first of all, this is one of Agatha Christie’s best. It’s been running for like forty years in London. And Mollie is the female lead, probably the best role in the show. She’s got these incredible scenes with Giles and Trotter… I could do this, Teen.”

“Do what?”

“I could play the role – I think. They’d never know. I mean, it’s not as if the real Marsha is going to show up, is it? And if Alvin is as good a director as they say, he’d be able to get me through it.”

“But, you are the real –”

“It’d be challenging, of course. I’ve never done a lead before, and I’d be playing a girl onstage. That means that the way I act is going to be under even greater scrutiny than in real life. I’m going to have to act feminine and make it seem natural, and be critiqued for it.” A happy thought struck me. “Maybe it would even help my normal off-stage performance.” The situation was starting to sound better and better.

“I’m going to do it, Teen! I’d never get a chance like this on my own. The world owes me. With everything I’ve just lost, this is the least I could get in return.” I was actually excited. Standing in for Marsha was finally going to have something positive going for it! “I want to read through the play, concentrating on Mollie’s lines. Can you read the others for me? I need to start thinking about interpretation…”

Tina grinned, “Marsh, it’s so good to see you happy about something. I’m sure I can find time to do a read-through with you. But don’t we have other things to work on first?”

She was right, of course. There were all those other ‘girl things’ that I needed to learn, and the sooner I started working on them, the better. The script was going to have to wait. But after this unexpected bit of good news, I really didn’t mind. It was going to be a fun challenge. Not only did I have to act the role of Marsha, I had to play Marsha playing Mollie; it was my own “play within a play.” I wondered if Alvin was going to film the production. It would be such a kick to be able to compare my performance to that of the girl who got it in the original timeline, after I changed back.

One Comment

  1. Maiden Anne says:

    I’ve been using a template to help me organize my thoughts and comments. Dad said he thought it would be useful to you to see the tensions and questions I am using, so I’ve posted my comments below in the template form. I hope it turns out readable.


    -Who is Dirk actually? Is Marsh going to make up with him?
    We leave Dirk completely out of this chapter. This tension is not heightened, except by being ignored.

    -What is it going to be like for a guy to live as a girl?
    It is going to be a stressful role, probably with some very unique challenges which Marshall couldn’t have imagined. We will probably get to see some of those in the next chapter.

    -Is Marsh going to be able to handle the challenge of playing Mollie?
    This new tension is brought on by the introduction of the play, and Marsh’s obvious enthusiasm. This is the first tension that is actually positive for Marsh, s/he really looks forward to the challenge.

    -Is Marsh going to change back, or stay the same?
    A continuing conflict, although no conflict in Marsh’s mind. S/he is going to change back, the only problem is, how will he convince Tina? But, regardless of Marsh’s confidence, I think there is a bit of a question yet, especially with the more positive upturn this chapter has taken. Will he perhaps learn to like being Marsha?

    -How is Marsh going to emotionally handle the situation?
    Everything up till now has been disappointment, or difficulty. His guitar is gone, his relationship with Chad is not the same, he has to dress in a manner he finds less comfortable, and generally he has to not live his normal, relaxed, life. But now there is a truly positive turn of events. He gets to play a role which, though much more challenging than the role he would have played other-wise, is a leading role, and thus an incredibly exciting challenge, and a wonderful opportunity he would not have gotten otherwise.

    -How is Marsh going to change because of this challenge he is facing?
    Will he learn to have a stable relationship?
    This seems to have been his main concern in the beginning. I wonder how much of a concern it will be now. Will he continue to learn from ‘seeing the other side’ of the issue?

    -Will this seriously affect his relationships for the rest of his life, because he knows what it is like to be both male and female?
    We as yet have no idea.

    -How are Marsh’s relationships going to change because he is now Marsha?

    -His relationship with Chad: I think we saw a bit in the last couple chapters that his relationship with Chad has changed, at least temporarily. Chad right now is in limbo between treating Marsh as ‘sister-I -never-had’ or as best friend. Marsh seems to still be thinking of Chad as his best friend, although his actions were a little inconsistent with that in chapter 8, where he lets Chad leave after a brief discussion on his difficulties as a girl.

    -His relationship with his family: Tina is going well, the rest of the family are in limbo.

    -His relationship with his friends/girlfriends: There might be a problem with his relationship with Lee Ann.

    -Will he have more respect for girls/treat them better/differently because of having seen things from their perspective?
    No real development here.

    -Is Marsh going to be able to change back, or is he stuck forever as a girl?
    Continuing to be a tension, although not one that is really mentioned. Chad is the only one who has brought that up, and his suggestion wasn’t really taken seriously by Marsh.

    Characters –

    There is quite a bit of contrast between Marsh and Tina’s viewing of her/his change. Marsh in his automatic statement ‘It’s not as though the real Marsh is going to show up’ shows that he really imagines himself more as Marshall playing at being Marsha, and Tina, in her quick response ‘But you are the real…’ shows that she is thinking of Marsh as Marsha, who has got her memory changed, but is the same person nonetheless

    Marshall is apparently very enthused about acting. He is also turning out to have very similar tastes to Marsha in many areas. It will be interesting to see whether he is similar enough to Marsha to play her part in the play.

    Marsha turns out to be a very good actress, apparently better than Marshall, because she ended up with the better role.

    As I mention above, Tina is thinking about the situation that he is in very differently than Marsh is.

    Chad again doesn’t come into this chapter. As I stated before, I had expected him to, but it does make sense that he doesn’t consider himself friend enough.

    Again not in this chapter, again not really surprising. It is when Marsh starts to go out that I would really expect him to show back up.

    M’s Mom:
    Just waiting to see what happens, will probably be one of his next big challenges, dealing with her/his mom.

    Lee Ann:
    Just waiting to see.

    Alvin Tomlinson:
    Apparently a director that Marsh really respects, whom we will be getting more from later when Marsh goes back to college and starts practicing to be Mollie.

    Overall I really enjoyed this chapter, mainly because it is the first really positive one.

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