Review of The Role by Richard Taylor Pearson

role

We were lucky enough to have Richard Taylor Pearson on the show earlier this year. Listen to his interview and find out more about his work right here! 059: Moments of Otherworldly Treasures

REVIEW

Mason Burroughs is the ambitious actor about to give up on his dream after repeated setbacks, when luck and a chance meeting lands him the role of a lifetime. Soon he is working opposite an old flame who can still make his heart race, and taking instruction from a border-line psychotic director who forces him to get deeper into the role than he is comfortable with. When he begins to enjoy his new-found responsibilities, his relationship with Eric, the love of his life, begins to crumble.

Don’t be fooled by other reviews saying this book is “steamy.” It isn’t particularly, but what you do get is a detailed look at what it takes to be an actor on Broadway, told through the story of Mason Burroughs, a nondescript-looking guy with an okay talent who probably wouldn’t have made it big, if it wasn’t for a lucky break. He meets Kevin, a crush from way back, now successful, devastatingly handsome, and keen to mould Mason into a worthy foil for his brilliance.

Ambition begins to cloud Mason’s judgement as he is moulded into shape by a variety of expertly-drawn characters, some who veer dangerously towards caricature but as this is the stage, dahling, they are probably bang-on accurate. There’s a director who does everything but twirl his cloak and go “mwah ha ha!” The bitchy understudy with his eyes firmly on Mason’s role (shades of All About Eve) and a distinctly strange personal trainer, who shapes Mason’s cuddly bod into that of a Greek god.

Mason’s love interest, Eric, was conveniently out of the way for most of it, being a computer game designer working on a major new project. I was torn between wanting to shout at Mason for abandoning him, and reasoning that he needs to follow his dream. Kevin, the hunk of lurve copping a feel or slipping Mason the tongue at every opportunity during their love scenes, adds to Mason’s torment. Mason loves Eric, but Kevin (Kevin? Really?) is just so H-O-T! I didn’t think he was, to be honest. He came over as a manipulative, entitled brat, who I wanted to slap every time he had page space. I think the author wanted to make him sympathetic at the end, but he didn’t succeed. I did like the way he made Alex (the understudy) a nice person under all the sass, but it came a bit too little, too late for me.

Although I felt the plot could have been tightened up a little, I really enjoyed this book. The author knows his subject and loves it, and has created a keyhole look at a world that people on the outside think is so glamorous, but is in fact full of egos, back-stabbers and sheer hard graft. He didn’t try to dress it up, or make it something it wasn’t. It was a convincing piece of fiction, about people that, sometimes, it was hard to like. I particularly didn’t like the three main characters, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to read about them. That takes skill.

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