FANTASTIQUE by Marvin Kaye


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Kaye's previous credits cover a range from sf (Wintermind, 1982, with Parke Godwin) and mystery (The Soap Opera Slaughters, 1982) to sheer whimsy; his latest is probably best described as a thriller with parapsychological underpinnings. In a technical tour-de-force, Kaye makes his novel's structure a close parallel with Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique. Carl Richards--an actor/director with a reputation for in-your-face on-stage gore--has a new project: a production of Georg BÃœchner's bizarre 19th-century drama Woyzeck, starring his wife Diana Lee Taylor, a former TV sitcom superstar enjoying a new career in serious theater. Complications begin when Diana's agent insists she shouldn't audition; half in retaliation, Carl chooses a disturbingly intense actress named Angelica Winters as her understudy. Carl finds himself drawn to Angelica, who teaches him techniques for inducing out-of-body experiences. Meanwhile, problems dog the rehearsals--an alcoholic cast member, a series of power-plays by Diana's agent, and all the vagaries of dramatic temperament, as well as ominous marital difficulties between Carl and Diana. Through it all, Carl's nights are filled with terrifying dream expeditions (scenes of violence and sexual brutality), and the reader learns (in flash-forwards to a police interrogation) of a stabbing during the play's debut performance. Shifting viewpoints, typographical experiments, and obsessive repetitions of motif-like fragments give a nightmarish intensity leading to the climactic scenes. The convincingly drawn theatrical sequences simultaneously provide a sense of realism and an additional overlay of unreality. A fine performance by Kaye--the most ambitious and possibly the best of his dozen solo novels.

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 1992
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's