Tag Archives: performance

Angel of Brooklyn by Janette Jenkins

DATE FINISHED: April 27th, 2012

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Beatrice is raised in small-town America by her distant father, an amateur taxidermist, alongside her brother’s dreams of becoming a preacher. When this life comes to an abrupt end, Beatrice finds herself on Coney Island – at first selling postcards, but later playing a starring role, as the Angel of Brooklyn. Lancashire lad , Jonathan, whisks her away from the ‘glamour’ of the boardwalk, and Beatrice switches the hustle & bustle of small-time entertainment for the gossip of a tiny village without even a picture-house. Beatrice adapts to her new life in Anglezarke, but as all the young men sign up to serve their country, tensions rise amongst those left in the village.

THOUGHTS:   I did not immediately warm to this book. Read more of this post

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

DATE FINISHED: April 20th, 2012

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Annie and Buster – also known as Child A and Child B – have been a part of their parents’ conceptual/performance art projects throughout their childhoods.  As they try to carve out their own identities as adults, they begin to realise just how much their lives and personalities have been affected by their unusual upbringing.  Each for their own reasons, the younger Fangs return home, but just as they are beginning to try to make sense of things, their parents disappear.  Is it a horrific murder, as suspected by the police; or is it just another work of art?  As Child A and Child B attempt to flush their parents out of hiding, are they facilitating some greater scheme, or are there bigger issues to contend with?

THOUGHTS:   Where does art end and life begin when the medium of your artwork is not a pen or paintbrush, but human experience?   Read more of this post

The Flying Man by Roopa Farooki

DATE FINISHED: April 2nd, 2012

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS:  Maqil, Miguel, Mehmet, Mike, slips through life from name to name, wife to wife, border to border, decade to decade, relying on his easy charm and quick wit to see him through the short con and the long, to provide the edge and entertainment he craves. But suddenly he is old, and what does he have to show for it? And who will miss him, once he’s gone?

THOUGHTS:   I was expecting to read about the exploits of a glib, smooth-talking conman, but instead Farooki revealed the other side of the man – Read more of this post

Mr. Vertigo by Paul Auster

DATE FINISHED: October 5th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  9 year old Walt is plucked from the streets of St. Louis by the mysterious Master Yehudi, and promised that he will be taught how to fly. At a farm in Kansas, Walt is put through a tortuous 33 step program but his sharp wit sees him through, and after he stops fighting, realises that for the first time he is in the midst of a family that loves him. But with flight achieved and showbusiness stardom beckoning, is the future really as bright as it seems?

THOUGHTS:  On one level, I really enjoyed this book. Walt and Master Yehudi are great characters, and the story sucked me in immediately. Read more of this post

A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde by Kevin MacNeil

DATE FINISHED: October 2nd, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Robert (Lewis) is in a bad way after a cycling accident, but he is determined that it will not affect his casting in the lead role(s) of a new production based on Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  But it seems he must prove his worth over a new actor who has been brought in to play the same role(s) not to mention win back his erstwhile ‘girlfriend’ Juliette.  In fact, none of the cast or crew seem to fully appreciate either Robert’s bravery/tenacity in the face of his post-accident pain, or indeed his immense talent.  And somehow, everything in his life seems to be sliding dramatically from bad to worse…

THOUGHTS:  The bulk of the story is told by Robert, so given the aftermath of the accident, combined with the subject of the play, the logical reader expects some kind of Jekyll & Hyde manifestation within his character.   Read more of this post

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

DATE FINISHED: April 5th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: President Harding dies just hours after participating in Carter the Great’s magic show.  Secret services want to know what (if anything) Carter had to do with the death.  The story flashes back to different episodes throughout Carter’s life & career until the mystery reaches its conclusion.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

DATE FINISHED: March 30th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: Two stage magicians of the 19th century spend a lifetime competing against each other professionally & feuding with each other unprofessionally.  Through the journals of the two magicians, various secrets are revealed…

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post

Jack Maggs by Peter Carey

DATE FINISHED: March 13th, 2011

RATED: **** 

SYNOPSIS: Jack Maggs arrives in London seeking out Henry Phipps, a gentleman who it turns out has recently departed his last known address. Maggs bides his time in the role of footman next door until he can meet his quarry; but in the employ of Percy Buckle, Maggs’ secret past as a transported convict is quickly discovered when a dinner guest practices his parlour trick of mesmerism.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post