Mat Osman

Teoksen The Ghost Theatre tekijä

3 Works 76 Jäsentä 3 arvostelua

Tekijän teokset

The Ghost Theatre (2023) 58 kappaletta
The Ruins (2020) 17 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla




Im Jahr 1601 lebt in Birdland das Vogelmädchen Shay. Dort werden die Vögel als Götter verehrt und in den Flügeln kann Shay die Zukunft sehen. Sie befreit in London gefangene Vögel und muss vor einem der Vogelhändler fliehen. Über den Dächern begegnet sie Nonesuch, der ihr hilft. Nonesuch arbeitet beim Theater und Shay freundet sich mit ihm und den anderen Jungen dort an. Nonesuch und Shay gründen das Ghost Theatre. An den unterschiedlichsten versteckten Orten von London führen sie ihre Stücke auf. Shay macht sich einen Namen als Wahrsagerin und weissagt sogar Königin Elizabeth. Doch das hat ungeahnte Folgen.
Mir hat diese phantastische und magische Geschichte gut gefallen. Der recht poetische Schreibstil ist angenehm zu lesen. Alles – die Menschen wie die Orte – ist bildhaft und detailreich beschrieben, so dass sich die Geschichte manchmal zieht. So turbulent sie auch begonnen hat, so tragisch endet sie.
Die Charaktere sind interessant und komplex. Shay hat die besondere Gabe der Weissagung und ahnt nicht, was sie damit auslösen kann. Als sie Nonesuch begegnet, ist sie gleich von dem wortgewandten Jungen beeindruckt und verliebt sich in ihn. Ich mochte Shay von Anfang an, doch mit Nonesuch wurde ich nicht wirklich warm.
In den Straßen von London herrscht Not und Elend und auch für die Theaterjungen ist es kein leichtes Leben. Sie dienen nur zur Unterhaltung der Adeligen und Reichen. Umso schöner ist in diesem traurigen Umfeld die Liebesgeschichte zwischen Shay und Nonesuch. Doch es gibt auch die andere, die tragische und sogar grausame Seite dieser Geschichte.
Eine interessante und ungewöhnliche Geschichte mit magischen Elementen.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
buecherwurm1310 | Oct 10, 2023 |
The stage is illuminated by just four candles. A boat’s prow appears behind the curtain at the back. A blue cloth billows across the stage, making the boat appear to gyre in the waves. A firecracker above and the drum-roll of wood on metal rock the stage. Cleopatra appears in the bow of the boat. She waits her moment and then speaks. She knows her power. The prompt just below the front of the stage is thrown again as Cleopatra strays off-script.

But she knows her public.

The fifty or so audience members are mesmerised by every word, every stage trick, everything that makes up the theatre experience in 1603 London.

The theatre in Mat Osman’s gorgeous novel is modelled closely on the real Blackfriars Boys, even to the extent that the impresario who owns the boys is named Evans (the historical Henry Evans held the licence for the Blackfriars).

The actor who plays Cleopatra so captivatingly is ‘Lord’ Nonesuch, a 15-year-old boy whose acting brings him fame, ‘name recognition’, throughout the 400,000 residents of the city. Adoring girls wait for him at the theatre door.

A dark side soon appears: the boys are forced to perform for parties at Evans’ house and the houses of other rich gentlemen. Nonesuch is painted white and stands on a plinth for the aristocrats’ diversion. Osman does not directly describe these tableaux; he appeals to our imagination to fill in the detail – or not.

In a clever misdirection, Nonesuch at first appears to be the main protagonist in The Ghost Theatre. He is so charismatic, and so much the leader of the boys (and girls) of the theatre, that Osman makes us admire him and worry for him. His backstory is dire. He is no Lord, but when he was ten, Evans bought him for sixpence from his drunken parents.

Shay passes as a boy to earn pennies as a messenger. She avoids the crammed streets by running the rooftops like urban runners in the 21st Century.

She lives on the marsh in Southwark. She and her dying father are members of the Aviscultans, a community outside the law (in Elizabeth’s England you have to be Church of England, or else), and is slated to take over from her late mother as the soothsayer who interprets the murmuration of the starlings. In the City, she hides her shaven and tattooed head with a cap.

She is so intrigued by her chance meeting with Nonesuch that she returns with him to the theatre and quickly becomes part of the little world of the boys and special effects girl Alouette and costume maker Blanch, a West Indian diver.

A quiet connection is established with Alvery Trussell, the quiet, clumsy boy who can’t quite learn his lines, and is everything that Nonesuch is not; at least in Nonesuch’s eyes.

Nonesuch is introduced to the rooftops. Their teenage romance is warm and beautiful. The other Blackfriars boys are generously happy for Nonesuch to share his cot with Shay in the dormitory.

Trying to gain a little freedom from Evans he and Shay set up pop-up theatres in pubs and alleyways, the Ghost Theatre. They had to be careful of the Queen’s enforcers, the Swifts, because theatre could only be performed with a licence.

They quickly make enemies. The villains in The Ghost Theatre are portrayed by the actions of their hoodlums; Gilmour’s men are after them, Elizabeth, the dying Queen deploys her Swifts with ruthless cruelty. Evans is ambitious in his cruelty. He is a thoroughgoing nasty man.

As their popularity grows, Shay and Nonesuch are inevitably drawn into these dangerous politics just as the plague hits. They flee the ‘sick city of 1603’ to perform in the country.

The politics and the relationships of the main characters pull the reader to a big dénouement involving a brutally repressed revolt of apprentices (in reality, the Tower Hill riot took place in 1595, so the novel skews the timeline – to good effect).

I loved this novel. The theatre world is drawn with careful detail, and the descriptions of London are alive and rich. The characters are all lovingly brought to life, and as the plot twists so do Nonesuch, Shay and Thrussell.

Historical fiction fans will enjoy this living, breathing, dirty, roiling London. Although teenage romance is at the heart of the novel, it is a book for all romantics. Shay and Nonesuch may be only 15 but, in order to survive in such a vicious place, they have a dignified maturity.

And, if you love theatre, you will savour the Three Acts of this Thrilling Tale. It is my standout book of 2023.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
TedWitham | 1 muu arvostelu | Jul 24, 2023 |
Wow. Wowza wow wow. That's not an adequate review, but it's how I'm feeling just now having finished The Ghost Theatre.


In The Ghost Theatre Mat Osman creates an immersive, slightly alternative Elizabethan London. Historical and imagined elements mix together, and one isn't always sure about which are which.

The book's central characters meet by chance. Shay, a young woman who prefers to dress as a man because of the freedom and additional safety this persona gives her, comes from a Aviscultan (bird worshiping) community. She's just released all the birds from a shop where they are sold and is racing across London on its rooftops, trying to escape the store owner and others pursing her. Nonesuch, a boy actor from Blackfriars Theatre, is also on the rooftops and aids her flight. Their lives quickly become intertwined with Shay working as a prompter in the theatre, and soon the two are lovers.

Nonesuch imagines a theatre that will tell the stories of ordinary Londoners, rather than the high drama served at Blackfriars. Shay and three friends join him in creating The Ghost Theatre, where they act out stories based on their own lives and their struggles as members of a marginalized underclass. This underground theatre draws in both the poor and the rich—those who find themselves represented in these new works and those from higher classes, who find these works outré. When plague comes to London, the small group of players takes to the road to continue performing.

That sums up the basics of the plot, but doesn't begin to give a sense of the magic Osman creates—not the sparkling, fluffy magic of bibbity-bobbity-boo, but a more dangerous magic that emerges within and is threatened by the daily violence experienced by the majority of Londoners. Powerlessness creates a kind of freedom, but powerlessness is still powerlessness. The Blackfriars boys are unwillingly rented out by the theatre's owner for "private entertainments." Shay, for whom birds are Gods and the Gods are birds, can read the underlying meeting in the flight of birds—and she also sees her gods being slaughtered, consumed, and forced to fight one another.

Besides issues of class, The Ghost Theatre explores issues of gender, trust, and race, and does so in a way that is compelling, rather than didactic. The book grows in richness as it progresses, and I found my reading speeding up as Osman built his world. By the end, I found myself racing through the text with an uneasy mix of trepidation and hope.

While Osman's London is similar in many to the historical London, the differences between the two are specific and complicated enough that readers will need time to feel grounded. This is a book that expects readers to live with unanswered questions as pieces gradually fall into place. The patience this requires is amply rewarded.

I received a free electronic review copy of The Ghost Theatre from the publisher via Edelweiss; the opinions are my own.
… (lisätietoja)
Merkitty asiattomaksi
Sarah-Hope | 1 muu arvostelu | May 2, 2023 |



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