I'm a theatre nut, so I was really disappointed when this wasn't awesome. I mean, it's a book about a girl with a mysterious past who lives in a theatI'm a theatre nut, so I was really disappointed when this wasn't awesome. I mean, it's a book about a girl with a mysterious past who lives in a theatre with a bunch of mainly-Shakespearean characters! When her place at the theatre is threatened, she needs to find a way to convince the theatre manager to let her stay. How can it not be awesome? Well, somehow it manages.
My initial qualm was with the protagonists: I found the main character unlikable and her fairy sidekicks grating. But more seriously, I found the whole premise baffling. I don't get what the Théâtre Illuminata is supposed to be. Is it some kind of Platonic Form of the theatre, since it holds every play and character ever written? Is it in an alternate magical reality where fictional characters are real and set changes actually make things happen? What is its relationship to the outside world? Who are the audience members, and where do they come from? On top of that, how does a girl who spends all her time with a pirate and the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream learn modern swear words?
And even worse, Mantchev seems to come up with new rules (or loopholes) to the theatre's operations as the plot demands. There is always a ton of chaos going on, and none of it is explained and none of it goes anywhere. By the end of the book, practically nothing has been accomplished except for setting up a sequel.
That being said, there were some elements that I enjoyed: -Ophelia seems to be channelling Luna Lovegood, but with memory issues and an understandable drowning fixation. -There are several pretty good Shakespeare in-jokes (but not as many as you'd expect, given the setting), and one wonderfully groan-worthy Don Quixote/Man of La Mancha pun. -If this gets teens into Shakespeare, then I'll forgive it for its faults. ...more
"Liked" is not really the right word for this play. I didn't enjoy it -- it is extremely disturbing and depressing at points -- but it is authentic an"Liked" is not really the right word for this play. I didn't enjoy it -- it is extremely disturbing and depressing at points -- but it is authentic and well-written. The play raises a lot of issues about reservation life and the situation of many First Nations communities in Canada, which is an important goal even if it doesn't make for comfortable theatre. I will also point out that I read the script and haven't seen it live, which is probably for the best given the aforementioned disturbing bits... not to mention the long stretches of dialogue in Cree, which I definitely would not have understood without the provided translation....more