Glimpsed in scenes spanning 14 years, a handful of aspiring actors suffer professional highs, lows, indignities and strokes of fortune in this absorbing, lightly comic novel by the noted British writer.
Freud (Love Falls, 2007, etc.) seems keen to strip the mystique from theatrical life in her cautionary tale of Dan Linden, Nell Gilby, Charlie Adedayo-Martin and their friends, who meet at drama school in London in 1992. Nell, besotted with Dan but never involved with him, is ejected from the school after two years and struggles, without an agent, doing fill-in work, to get parts. Charlie, black and beautiful, has an easier entrée via a sexually explicit movie, and Dan, despite a growing family, enjoys the easiest trajectory of the three. But each must grapple with the difficulties inherent in the work to which they are addicted: competition, repetition, bad skin, embarrassing nudity, aging, brief but intense relationships, promiscuity and more. Freud, generally a shrewd observer, occasionally strays into caricature, notably in encounters with a predatory filmmaker and a superficial agent, but elsewhere she captures fleeting hopes, insecurities and self-doubts—is this, after all, a worthwhile way to earn a living?Sober but not profoundly soul-searching, this entertainingly readable antidote to E! News brings a touch of irony to the red carpet.