Any performance — live or “recorded live on tape” — is nothing without tension. The live stage is filled with tension because of its unique requirement of being presented in live time while anything can happen.
On the live stage, a set can fall down. An actor can forget lines. A light can catch on fire.
That danger of the unknown is what makes a live performance much more meaningful than one you can stop and start and do over.
Once the lights go up on a live stage — the audience knows anything can happen and it is that innate tension that drove them into their seats in the first place.
Artificially maintaining that tension is a tough task and it falls upon Playwright, actor and direction to continue the tense uneasiness.
The most antiseptic way of maintaining tension is to pit conflicting wants and intentions against each other. If those wants and intentions are correctly mapped and executed, you naturally have a palpable opportunity for a constricting and effective tension
Finding other ways to create tension — through sounds, lighting effects, movement and music — will also help creep in the spectacle requirement while having tension mount in organic ways instead of surprise attacks.