Give My Regards to Nowhere: A Director’s Tale, by Richard Engling, FEB 2023 LTER

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Give My Regards to Nowhere: A Director’s Tale, by Richard Engling, FEB 2023 LTER

maaliskuu 1, 1:15 pm

Disclaimer: An electronic copy of this book was provided in exchange for review by the author, via Library Thing.

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This is a sprightly and entertaining tale about the beleaguered director of a small Chicago acting troupe who hopes an avant-garde production of Shakespeare's 'Titus Andronicus' will lead to his big break … if it doesn't break him first.

Dwayne Finnegan has come up with what he thinks is a brilliant concept for staging Shakespeare’s least performed (also most brutal, violent, sexist, and racist) play, and has also convinced a long-time friend to put in a good word about it with the head of an elite, prestigious New York program for emerging stage directors. It looks like this could launch his career in life-changing ways … until the suddenly-former producer of the troupe announces he has helped himself to the group’s seed money in order to finance his own shot at the big-time by decamping for Los Angeles.

That’s just the first of many tablecloths to be jerked out from under the theatrical feast Dwayne had plated up, and it sets in motion a madcap race against the opening night so confidently announced to the impresario. There’s lots of manic energy floating around as Dwayne deals with one catastrophe after another, trying desperately to keep all those plates spinning in the air – financing, casting, locating a theater, building a support team, and holding together a shaky relationship with his wife, all against the backdrop of a brutal Chicago winter and an immovable deadline.

Engling – whose theatrical background gives him a sure hand as he builds the underpinning here – manages to keep it all fast-paced and funny. It feels very much like a performance piece, and most readers will probably be casting it in their heads as they read along. Dwayne is essentially a good guy who has gotten in way over his head, and much of the fun here comes from seeing him carom wildly from one disaster to another.

Don’t look for a lot of character development – some of the key supporting players are never developed much beyond the needs of the immediate moment, and motivations are sometimes just a bit too slick. But it’s a fun ride anyway, and you really can’t help rooting for the team to pull it off.