Morality Play is Barry Unsworth''s first nove l since winning the Booker prize in 1992. It is a dark and p owerful fable about the masks we wear, the roles we play and the corrupted nature of justice. '
Others in my book group liked the book more than I did but we all agreed that the value lies in its description of the times and the power and evolution of theater. There's even a clever use of Deus Ex Machina in the plot. It proved to be a good discussion book but is a must read of theater people.
This is an excellent book. There's no history to slog through--throughout, context is implied briefly as the narrative proceeds; there are no "info dumps"--and the story is in motion by the time you get to page two. It's a tight story, a shrewd observation of the functions and origins of art, and a convincing historical setting, in that order of prominence. My reason for emphasizing this order is that I'd like people like me, who don't read historical fiction, to try this one.
There's a lot to admire, but most of it can be reduced to this: clarity. Clarity of thought, clarity of plot, clarity of language. An admirable trick in itself is the way the language seems always "period" in flavor, but is never arcane or difficult.
I've been recommending this one.
The troupe stops in a remote town, where recently a child has been murdered. Will the murderer be discovered as the troupe becomes more interested in the case?
"Morality Play" is a short, entertaining book. I suppose that every novel of this type tends to be compared to "The Name of the Rose", despite the fact that it might be a little unfair to do that. It has a similar feel to Eco's work, but "Morality Play" is still good stuff - Unsworth is a skilled author, and manages to convey what might be an authentic feel for what life was like then. Although it's not as weighty as say "Stone Virgin", "Sacred Hunger" or "The Rage of the Vulture", it's still a well-controlled piece of writing.