This is a fantasy, a fairy tale. It is often necessary to willingly and consciously suspend one's disbelief; the pay off in entertainment terms is well worth it. Coincidences abound (there are 5 sets of twins; Nora and Dora share their 75th birthday with their father Melchior (and his twin Peregrine) and Shakespeare. Peregrine is a magician; he arrives out of the blue at key dramatic moments and then disappears (in one case presumed dead) and then returns having made a fortune out of gold, or oil, or... A lot of Perry's back story is secret.
There are many Shakespearean themes (twins, fathers) and motifs:
- Melchior's father murdered his mother and her (presumed) lover and then committed suicide after he had played Othello to her Desdemona (and the presumed lover was playing Iago); later Melchior plays Othello and marries HIS Desdemona
- Tiff goes mad on live TV, carrying flowers, singing a song and subsequently drowning, like Ophelia in Hamlet;
- The twins dance as fairies in a film version of Midsummer Night's Dream starring their father and written by their uncle.
- Lady Atalanta is cast out of her house by her two evil daughters, as Lear is cast from his kingdom by his Goneril and Regan.
- The musical show What? You Will! is the alternative title for Twelth Night which features a pair of twins
As well as twins, mirrors crop up as a theme. Deefholts explains in detail that the theme of the twins is in itself a theme of reflection, with the mirror image often being the literally perverted or evil aspect. Dulaities include Dora versus Nora, the "legit" theatre vs the music halls, north Londond vs South London, Peregrine vs Melchior, Nora and Dora vs Saskia and Imogen etc.
This book is immense fun and an exhilirating read.
May 2009, 232 pages