Reviewed by Timothy Niedermann
“All the World’s a Stage,” and author Gerry Fostaty means to prove it. Michael Dion is an actor. He is in the final stages of rehearsal for a play about to open in Toronto. Apart from trying to get “off book”—commit his part completely to memory—his mind is taken up with how to get the attention of Amanda, one of his co-stars. As he scopes her out during rehearsals, the rest of the cast looks on: Michael’s friend Nigel, who helps him over the rough parts; Elizabeth, “Bid,” the stage manager, who tries to get them organized; and David, the rather rotund director, who tweaks the last details.
Finally Amanda notices. But she has a favour to ask, and Michael is all too willing to oblige. Her friend Karen’s rebellious seventeen-year-old son Kyle is missing, having bolted from home after a family argument. Can Michael help? A quick web search on Kyle’s social networking pages delivers Megan, a tattooed “trustafarian”—half trust-fund brat, half Bohemian, all trouble. She sends Michael and Amanda to a loft, the site of a rave where Kyle was last seen.
Kyle, as it turns out, was dealing “Special K,” a recreational drug. But it appears the hosts weren’t happy with him and he was thrown out, carried away by an unknown bunch—drug-dealing competitors?—to a house on Baldwin Street. With Amanda watching, the besotted Michael walks right up to the door, goes in, and finds himself in nothing but big trouble.
Michael and his friends are in way over their heads. But like the actors they are, they improvise. And this is the intriguing hook to this novel. Once an actor himself, Fostaty knows his milieu. The scenes of the rehearsals are packed with telling details. He also captures the actors’ personalities—the ambitious diva, the dedicated technician, the languid posturer. The hard work of acting comes through. The fun starts when the actors take their skills on the road to save Kyle from his abductors. Again, author Fostaty’s knowledge of the tricks of the trade makes it all seem real and plausible.
As with any first-time effort, there are a few missteps. The dialogue can be a bit formal, and some of the word choices are odd. More important is that while the scenes in the rehearsal studio and elsewhere where the main characters are interacting with each other are paced nicely, some of the action scenes come across as rushed.
Yet the characters bring it off. Let’s hope that Fostaty has written “Stage Business” as the beginning of a series, for it doesn’t take a playwright’s imagination to be swept away by the possibilities.
Stage Business is published by Deux Voiliers Publishing. It will be released on November 1, 2014.