Well, the first thing to know is that everyone hated it and you were terrible. They will say nice things, but unless they are A) screaming, B) openly weeping, or C) bodily shaking you, they are unquestionably lying to indulge your fragile pathetic ego.
In case you don't believe me, I've written a handy guide to translating audience responses.
First of all: beware enthusiastic, unqualified praise. No one likes EVERYTHING. For instance:
"That was fantastic/great/awesome!"Also, watch out for specific or itemized praise. This only means they've found a way to spare your feelings by mentioning the ONE thing about your show that was NOT an absolute abomination.
This is a simple one: your friend does not have the heart to lie to you.
"You were great!"
No, you weren't.
"Great job!"You can also gauge audience responses from strangers. For example:
This is a common one. Sometimes it means your friend actually liked YOUR work and hated the show itself.
But often it was the first vague, positive thing that came to mind that wasn't a direct lie.
"The show was great!"
Read: you, however, were terrible.
This is the worst. This really just means 'I can't find anything to praise, but you seem to still be alive after participating in that debacle, so... good for you for THAT." Usually followed by an abrupt conversation change.
"I loved the (specific scene/design detail/moment of the play)!"
... which is a direct contrast to how fiercely I hated everything else.
Stranger makes eye contact and smiles briefly.
Sympathy for how you have just embarrassed yourself.
Stranger avoids eye contact completely.
Empathy for how you have just embarrassed yourself (this is an important distinction. THIS person feels it so deeply, they have absorbed your embarrassment and can't even bring themselves to look you in the face. The other person was kinder, but slightly more patronizing).
Stranger smiles, says "good job."
The above apply, but Stranger feels need to say SOMETHING, and he/she doesn't know you so doesn't really mind lying to you just a little bit.
So, there you go. Enjoy the run of your show. Please feel free to add anything I've left out. I'm sure I'll continue to edit this post.