cover image The Trip to Jerusalem

The Trip to Jerusalem

Edward Marston. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (222pp) ISBN 978-0-312-05174-7

Marston ( The Merry Devils ) here skillfully develops an engaging tale of murder, politics and general mayhem focused on the travels and tribulations of Westfield's Men, a 16th-century, London-based troupe. As the Great Plague decimates the city, the right to stage plays, always precarious, has been revoked. In an effort to find work, Lawrence Firethorn, the group's leader, takes his contentious crew on the road. Misfortune dogs their every step. Banbury's Men, a rival yet inferior company, purloins Westfield's plays, costumes and even players. Westfield also finds itself enmeshed in the vicious battle raging between the Church of England and the recently disenfranchised Catholics. The climax occurs at an inn in the city of York called ``The Trip to Jerusalem.'' Marston uses period dialogue; it is cleverly handled and easily understood. A historically authentic depiction of life in England is lightly woven into the main story, and a delightfully ribald flavor freshens many scenes. (Oct.)