cover image Zap


Paul Fleischman, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2774-4

In his first play for young adults, Fleischman (Breakout ) brings the idea of channel surfing to stage. His opening scene has a house manager inviting audience members to use imaginary remote controls when they feel the urge to switch plays. What follows is a hilarious clashing of conventions as periodic "zap" sounds signal changes of scene and genres of play. Clips from Shakespeare's Richard III plus six invented dramas representing a 1916 English mystery, a comedy set in Manhattan in the summer of 1965, a modern performance artist's one-woman show, a 19th-century Russian drama, a Southern play in a 1934 Mississippi mansion, and theatre of the absurd are juxtaposed against each other and eventually intermingle. The fun increases as actors become perturbed and confused about getting "cut off" before their scene is finished and step out of character every so often to speak their minds. The only connecting thread between the clips is a corpse that remains onstage throughout the entire production and becomes a focal point in many vignettes. The humor of each piece marks a stark contrast with the reality of the dead body onstage. With its large cast of characters, wide variety of challenging roles and simple set layout, this play (already produced in three schools across the country) offers a new intriguing option for young adults tired of the usual fare performed in high-school auditoriums. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)