Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes on the Prize by Richard Engling – Book Review

Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes on the Prize by Richard Engling – Book Review

Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes On the Prize by Richard Ealing

Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes on the Prize

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Synopsis

In this hilarious follow-up to Give My Regards to Nowhere, Chicago director Dwayne Finnegan has another crack at the big time if only his production of Romeo and Juliet can shine. However, Dwayne shares rehearsal space with a cult that takes trips on LSD-like ayahuasca and believes Dwayne’s production is evil. The cult sabotages him. His actors rebel. His publicist gets entangled with a loan shark. Bones are broken, the production drops into chaos, Dwayne’s marriage hangs by a thread, but despite it all, the show must go on.

Review by George

In this sequel to Give My Regards to Nowhere, author Richard Engling again produces another comic look backstage at the Chicago storefront theater scene.

Director Dwayne Finnegan has a problem. His gorgeous, hot (and hot-tempered) wife, Angela, is ready to start a family, but Dwayne hesitates. He can’t seem to translate the success of his production of Titus Andronicus into a director’s position with a big-league theater that will pay him decent money. And with only Angela’s teacher’s salary to live on, he fears having a baby is out of the question.

To impress Reginald Camper, the artistic director of Chicago’s Goodman Theater, Dwayne plans to stage an innovative take on Romeo and Juliet. Naturally, problems develop right away. The Psychedelic Dream Teater troupe is a quirky bunch, and their eccentricities are on full display as Dwayne tries to pull a show together. Throw in a loan shark and a confrontation with a group using religion as an excuse to indulge in mind-altering drugs, and it will be a miracle if this production gets off the ground!

Like the previous book, Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes On the Prize is liberally salted with humorous characters and situations. The scene where the managing director, Ingrid Baardsen, destroys a wonky sound mixer board had me literally laughing out loud—in an airport, no less! Richard Engling reprises his ability to find humor in situations most would consider devastating.

Romeo and Juliet Keep Their Eyes On the Prize is an entertaining look at small-time theater. Now that I live in Chicago, I feel even more connected to it. I enjoyed it every bit as much as Give My Regards to Nowhere. I can recommend the book without reservation.


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Richard Engling

Richard Engling

Richard Engling is an actor, director, playwright, novelist and musician. His books have been published by Penguin/Putnam, Headline House UK, and Polarity Ensemble Books. He played drums with the jazz quartet Midnight Blue for several years. He was co-founder and Artistic Director of Polarity Ensemble Theatre.

Richard holds a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing from Indiana University and majored in Theatre as an undergraduate at Northern Illinois University. He lives in Evanston, Illinois, with his wife Gail.

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