Lives of the Circus Animals
A NovelUnknown - 2003
Critically acclaimed novelist Christopher Bram has written some of his best work about life in the performing arts. In Father of Frankenstein, the basis for the Academy Award-winning movie Gods and Monsters, it was Hollywood in the thirties and fifties. In The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes, it was the strange world of Victorian music and spiritualism. Now, in Lives of the Circus Animals, Bram explores contemporary New York theater, spending several days and nights with a diverse handful of men and women.
There is Caleb Doyle, a hot new playwright whose newest work, Chaos Theory, has just bombed. His sister, Jessie, also loves theater but has no outlet for her talents except to work as the personal assistant to British actor Henry Lewse, "the Hamlet of his generation," while he does a Broadway musical. Henry loves Shakespeare, money, grass, and boys.
Then there's Frank Earp, an ex-actor who courts Jessie and is directing a troupe of acting students in a homemade play. Among the students is Toby Vogler, a nice kid from the Midwest who has a whole other career at night. Toby was once Caleb Doyle's boyfriend.
Overseeing this world like an unhappy god is Kenneth Prager, second-string theater critic for the New York Times.
Leaping from one life to another, one day to the next, the novel throws these people together in a serious comedy about love and work and make-believe. Lives of the Circus Animals is a cross between a Mozart opera and a Preston Sturges movie. A look at theater people who are just like everyone else, only more so, it's a comic celebration of how we all strive to stay sane while living in the shadow of those two impostors, success and failure.