Reviewed by Ilhem C.
TITLE: Drama Queens with love Scenes
AUTHOR: Kevin Klehr
PUBLISHER: Cambridge Press US
LENGTH: 342 pages
BLURB: Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.
They are soon drawn into the world of theatre – Afterlife style, with all the bitchiness, back-stabbing and ego usually associated with the mortal world.
Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.
Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.
Picture high raised eyebrows and a scrunched up nose. Add grumbles and sighs for the soundtrack. Mix that nonetheless with smiles, snorts and chuckles and you’ll have my very conflicted feelings. Then round them up to a 3 stars rating. Confusing? That’s my point.
Let me set the scene. As the story is beginning, Allan and his best friend Warwick are welcomed in a strange place called the “Limelight Quarter”, and have no memory of how they landed there. The fact that one of their guides is winged might however be a hint that it is the Afterlife. They meet a whole cast of secondary characters and soon, everyone is playing a role in a play within the story. Soon too, we have a lot of questions. How on earth did they die? Did they die? Were they lovers? Who is trying to sabotage the play? Will Allan -who is very confused (ha!) and very much in love – succeed in conquering Warwick? And that is not all but I can’t tell.
So, we have no answer, a mystery and an unrequited love on our hands, and Allan is coached in both of them by an angel who can’t fly and an actress from the 19th century. The scenes I liked the most are theirs! I felt that the trio’s moments were when this odd mix of offbeat production, humour, vulnerability and reflexion about love and life was the most successful, and it is precisely this odd mix -plus the amusement of seeing familiar romance tropes peeping around the corner and passing by, that made me relax towards this story despite my reserves about the execution.
Facts, actions and scenes chain up seemingly erratically, almost like in an “Exquisite Corpse” game. It matches the characters’ confusion and the setting between reality and fantasy, but makes it difficult to get into the story and to follow the threads. To be honest, my attention wandered a lot, and I think that the book would have been more efficient if it had been shorter.
Absurd is enjoyable when it is dynamic and fast paced, but the story often drags, the funny lines are brought too repetitively, and above all, the writing needs to flow a lot more smoothly to pull the reader along.
In the end, “Drama Queens with Love Scenes” is a surrealist farce; flawed certainly, but also a creative change. I’m curious to see what’s in store in the sequel.
Absurd lovers, give it a try!
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Ilhem C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
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