For those who revel in getting behind the scenes in theatre, here is a good, solid, meticulously detailed and very alive picture of a road company tour, written sympathetically, knowledgeably, by an actor-director. The cast in full dimension, with the good and the bad, the weak and the strong -- a complete category of theatre, from the star to the bit players, stage managers, publicity men; from an indictment of the monarchy of the star system to the hope for the future in group movements; from the bad and purple spots that the public assumes to be true of all theatre, to the gracious, kindly and sincere gestures of the real people of theatre...Spotlighted is young Henry Carmichael, established in character parts, who loves rigidly conventional Judith. The breakup in his parents' marriage and the death of his best friend mark the tour as a time for growing up and finding new values. There is Constance, understudying Miss Evvy, the star, whose first affair teaches her the value of her love for Henry; there is Miss Evvy, fearing age, failure, disclosures about her personal life, expanding under the success of the tour; there is Mrs. Terry, from England, big, bluff, honest, gay; there is Joel, a newcomer in the part of Tybalt, who lands in pictures; there is Douglas Gray, hard, cruel, perverted. The novel interweaves their lives as they move from place to place, against a kaleidoscope of glamour seen from the inside, with great gobs about theatre, acting, politics, personalities. Definitely not for the ultra-conservative or the prurient minded or the bluenoses; but for anyone who wants a serious novel of the stage provinces...originally announced for Macmillan's list and later withdrawn. Now cut from 500,000 words to 325,000 words --so still a whale of a book. There's not been anything quite like it since -- perhaps -- Broome Stages.