REVIEW: Take a Bow by Fiona Greene
He’s the Banksy of the international theatre scene – daring, anonymous, renowned. So when playwright ‘Draven’ bequeaths his latest play to the rural Rivervue Theatre, the stage is set for drama.
Creative director Lexi Spencer stands centre stage in the fight to save the iconic Rivervue Community Theatre from redevelopment by the local council. With Draven’s new play, Lexi’s got the weapon she needs to keep Rivervue open. She just needs to ensure it remains a secret. Staging the controversial Larrikin is guaranteed to cause trouble, but it’s a risk she’s willing to take. She’s already lost so much in her life, losing the theatre isn’t an option.
Council CEO Mark Conroy is new to artsy Brachen, but not to dealing with passionate constituents who disagree with his decisions. And he’s definitely not new to Lexi Spencer. Over a decade has passed since he ruined his relationship with Lexi, but old feelings aren’t as easily written off as a building. When they’re forced to become allies, the town’s secrets aren’t the only ones at stake.
Can they pull off the impossible and save Rivervue, or will their past bring down the curtain on a shared future?
Dear Ms. Greene,
Truth time here. I read the first book in this series and wasn’t blown away. The second book didn’t work for me. So when I started “Take a Bow,” well, I wasn’t sure how things would go. Now having finished it I can say that I’m happy and that for me, the best was saved for last.
Part of what I didn’t care for in “Tread the Boards,” was most of the nitty gritty of preparing and staging a play. I didn’t know this about my tastes ahead of reading this series and realize that this is a true case of “it’s me, not the book.” Readers who delight in theater might lap all this up and ask for more. Part of why I enjoyed “Take a Bow” more is that there isn’t actually a lot of detail about all this in this book. So good for me but something for theater aficionados to be aware of.
Instead, this story focuses tightly on the reunion between teenage lovers who are now older, more seasoned, but still capable of being hurt by those actions from long ago. Neither Lexi nor Mark expected to be thrown together seventeen years after their “first love” romance was broken up but events are going to keep them in proximity until after the stage run of this play.
After some teeth gritting, both get down to business and – glory be – act like adults. They’re still not ecstatic but they are professionals. It’s too bad that as they begin to work back towards the love that never ended, the seeds of a new break-up are being sown. All this is baked into the plot and didn’t feel as if I were being jerked around for Angst and Drama. The issues now springing up between them are predicated both on what happened years ago as well as on how Lexi is desperately trying to save the theater company that has become her home and family.
The revitalization of their attraction takes off slowly with both of them aware that it might be viewed negatively by the people around them for various concrete reasons which are again essential to the plot. But those old feelings spring up and are blazing just as hot. Then the Big Secret is revealed and it’s something to tear a heart out at hearing it. It was then that I stopped and wondered, how could Lexi have worked with Mark for so long by then with This hanging over her from her past? Mark’s response is also gut wrenching but I could understand his reasons which have been laid out over the course of the book until that time. I still wanted to smack him but I could understand.
Just as the lies and secrets of the town and its Hometown Son have been worked into this play that might save the theater, lies – both unintentional and required for maximum effect for the theater – and secrets threaten any hope for Mark and Lexi. Cheers that Mark realizes just how fantastic a job Lexi managed to pull off in staging this remarkable play. The answer to the ax hanging over the theater is one that Mark discovers and works to engineer a positive result for everyone. He also realizes what a dick he was and makes amends in a special way that will always mean something special to Lexi in addition to verbally admitting his dickheadedness. His turnaround might be a bit quick but he does a nice grovel. B