Storming the Stage

Davina Elliott
Puck Books
Released

Storming the Stage

The final novel in the Judith Gold trilogy, following Chewing the Scenery and Climbing the Curtain relocates our favourite characters to New York or more precisely, Broadway.

Following the success of All About Eve in London, its non-directing director together with the two main stars Judith Gold and Rupert Blake do their best to succeed on the Great White Way with a play that feels like taking coals to Newcastle.

We can all understand the reluctance that Americans would feel at British incomers remaking one of their iconic movies for the stage.

Certainly leading man Digby Weston is deeply resentful and seems set on doing whatever it takes to turn the venture into a disaster.

One could argue that he doesn't need much help with a leading lady like Mindy Blue in the title role taking method acting techniques to extremes that even Lee Strasberg could never have imagined.

Combining the inevitable internal problems with a star actress / behind-the-scenes director whose temper and behaviour would be worthy of a five-year-old should be a guarantee of failure.

It very nearly is and ups and downs worthy of a rollercoaster ride take us through through 500 pages that verge on the melodramatic but rarely let up in a breathless pacing that keeps the pages turning.

Once again, Storming the Stage will give readers a really good impression of what life is like behind-the-scenes, this time at a real-life Broadway venue, seen from the perspective not only of actors, producers and directors but also those in more mundane jobs.

In fact, one of the best additions in this final part of the trilogy is Tim the dresser, whose skills as a psychoanalyst are at least as important as his impromptu needlework.

In addition to portraying the activities on the stage and behind-the-scenes, the book also ventures further out to look at the relationships of its protagonists and even what is going on in the wider world, largely through the eyes of Victor, Judith's long-suffering partner.

This ensures that Storming the Stage holds the attention and plucked at the heartstrings when it is not making readers laugh.

As such, this book should be a must on the Christmas list of anybody trying to please friends or family with theatrical leanings. Alternatively, it could easily make it on to that other much more important list of presents: those that you buy for yourself to enjoy while everyone else is digesting the seasonal turkey.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher