THE WILDER PLOT by Stephen Krensky


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Krensky, whose previous efforts have been well-studied but uninspired once-upon-a-time fantasies, now works his way through a contemporary junior-high comedy of errors. The plot clicks along neatly but mechanically, and the one dimensional cast of nine ninth-graders step through their paces obediently, but their cross-purpose schemes never build or interact to the point of hilarity. The action is initiated by three rivals for class president, a position sought with more single-minded passion in juvenile books than in most real-life junior high schools; and it revolves around the class production of A Midsummer Night's Dream--accessible Shakespeare perhaps, but still unlikely to ring responsive bells in Krensky's readers. The central problem is main-character Charlie's extreme stage fright, which sends him into shock when he is chosen to play Lysander. It turns out that classmate Greg, in revenge for Charlie's dumping paint on his boot, has told the English teacher-drama coach that Charlie wants the part. (Greg will play Demetrius.) Then newcomer Roger (Oberon), who's running for class president against Greg, persuades Charlie to put up anti-Greg signs around the school. Charlie agrees, hoping to be caught and kicked out of the play as punishment. But Susan (Puck), investigating for the school paper, suspects conceited Dirk, another presidential candidate, of placing the signs. For his part Dirk is disgruntled that he must play the undignified role of Bottom, cover his handsome face with the donkey's, and lose the chance to impress voters with his nobility. Charlie sees some hope in missing the play when dumb, jealous football player Jack, whose girlfriend plays Hermia, threatens to beat him up. But in the end it is Dirk's campaign manager Tracy, as Titania, who causes the dress-rehearsal fall that saves him from performing. All this might have been plotted on graph paper, and Krensky's whole performance could be compared to that of good students who have diligently learned their lines and avoided mistakes.

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum