In her follow-up to one of my favourite books of last year (Act Like It), Lucy Parker returns to the London theatre world, this time introducing us to acclaimed director Luc Savage, who has spent a considerable amount of his time and huge amounts of money restoring a theatre his family has a generations long connection to. He’s planning to celebrate the reopening of the theatre with a prestigious play called 1553, featuring character studies of Mary I, Elizabeth I and poor doomed Jane Grey. Unfortunately, his first choice for Mary I was his girlfriend of eight years, industry darling Margo Roy, but they recently broke up after realising they’d both been prioritising their careers for years, rather than each other. To make matters worse, Margo went off and almost instantly married an Italian opera singer, going off on an extended honey moon, leaving Luc with no choice but to hire a hypochondriac melodramatic diva instead. Then his first choice for Elizabeth I goes and breaks both her ankles, and he’s forced to recast her too.
His casting agent and one of the theatre’s top investors are leaning on him to give TV bombshell Lily Lamprey a chance to audition. She’s constantly in the tabloids and hiring her would certainly ensure a boost in ticket sales for the theatre. Blond, curvaceous, with a porn starlet voice, Ms. Lamprey has been the resident serial adulteress vixen on costume drama/soap opera Knightsbridge for the last four years, cursing the fact that she let herself get tied into a long-running contract and playing into everyone’s expectations for much longer than she wanted to. Her looks and her breathy sex kitten voice has made her the victim of casual sexism her entire career and while she’s willing to kill for a chance to prove her acting chops on the London stage, she’s none too optimistic about her chances, having been told about Luc’s preconceived notions of her from an intern who happened to be serving tea while the arrogant Mr Savage was considering Lily’s audition tape. Nevertheless, though she believes it to be a long shot, she’s not going to waste the opportunity and ends up impressing Luc despite himself. He believes that with training, careful direction and some serious voice coaching, there is a spark to Lily’s acting that could turn into something truly special.
It quickly becomes obvious that there is a strong attraction between Luc and Lily, which both of them resists as with the close working relationship, it could spell disaster for both the play and their reputations. Luc’s parents are still absolutely besotted with one another, while his older brother recently divorced a nineteen-year-old. The press is constantly inventing fictitious rebound romances for him after Margo’s leap into matrimony right after breaking up with him. They’d love to be able to blame the whole split on him. Lily, on the other hand has a number of reasons, both personal and professional as to why she doesn’t want to fall for her director.
My full (and long) review can be found here.