This story is set in Ireland in the last quarter of the 18th century, when gentleman did not work for a living, and those who did were considered to have lost their status in society, and derided. Theo, raised to be a gentleman, is nevertheless determined to become an actor, and his story is one of adventure, humour, tragedy and love as he encounters the disapproval of his peers in his battle to be accepted as a gentleman player, as such actors were known. It is a battle his mentor, gentleman Thomas Sheridan, father of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, has waged all his life as both actor and manager of the famous Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin. In the 18th century, this theater was Dublin's foremost theater, along with the Crow St. Theatre, and their managers and several other characters are real people. The story itself is a work of fiction about the early life of Theo, who was also a real person. Born in Dublin in 1752, he was known to be a highly educated and literary man of great charm, charisma, wit, ability and energy.
"I must say you have done an impressive piece of historical re-imagination. That period of Irish history is a particularly vivid one... You have really brought this material alive."
Prof. Chris Morash, MRIA
Head, School of English, Media & Theatre Studies
National School of English, Media & Theatre Studies
National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Maynooth, County Kildare, Ireland
"An 18th century 'gentleman player fights, loves and charms his way through Ireland in Watkins' delightful ode to the theater... a vivid historical envisioning, with insightful observations about playacting in everyday life and memorable anecdotes about life in the theater... A spirited historical novel marked by humor, intrigue and entertainment."