“The Role” by Richard Taylor Pearson— Behind the Scenes

the role

Pearson, Richard Taylor. “The Role”, Lethe Press, 2016.

Behind the Scenes

Amos Lassen

Rejection can be a terrible thing and Mason Burroughs has not too much of it lately. Already at age 25, he has been turned down for roles at every audition he has been to and he is ready to give up on an acting career. But things suddenly look a bit better when he runs into Kevin Caldwell, a guy he went to acting school with and had a crush on. Kevin helps Mason get a really good role that has the possibility that can him the next Broadway star. But then as rehearsals begin, Mason discovers that there is more drama about getting the part than is in the script. He has to deal with a personal trainer who tells him that he can make his body into someone beautiful and hunky and an understudy that is very eager to replace him and a director with a very large ego and his own ways of directing his cast. If that is not enough, Kevin is determined to come between Mason and his partner, video game programmer, Eric, and Kevin begins to wonder how much he is willing to give up to become a star. Mason finds the only real happiness that he has is what he shares with Eric.

The play “Masque” is one with intrigue, wonderful soliloquies, and a bisexual love triangle all set in Elizabethan England. If it had not been for luck and Kevin’s help he would not have gotten the role of an ingénue soldier, Caleb, had it not been for Kevin who plays the seductive and handsome Count Ezio.

Kevin is a very handsome and charming, yet selfish, actor on whom Mason had many lustful thoughts about when they were acting students together. Kevin paid him no attention back then and now Mason will have to play in a barely clothed sex scene with him. Mason’s understudy looks enough like him that they could be twins but unlike Mason, is obnoxious and wants both the part and Kevin.

Mason works very hard with his personal trainer to get in shape for the role and his director has his own and he puts the actors through some very strange exercises. As they rehearse, Mason realizes the old feelings he had for Kevin once again beginning to surface. What will happen is for you to read the book and find out. Could this be another comedy like Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors”?

There is a lot to like here but frankly, I had trouble liking Mason and I am not sure why that is. Yet there is something about Kevin that is easy to fall in love with. If you love backstage dish this is a book for you and an excellent way for writer Richard Pearson to enter the literary world. On a more personal note, I have never met the author who is originally from Arkansas and I discovered that we were both living there for a short while at the same time. Reading this gave me the chance to see that the state can indeed produce good writers.


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