A Midsummer Night's Fling By Beth Matthews

Monday, July 28, 2014

I saw a study once that said the three things that give people the most joy are:

1. Exercise
2. Sex
3. Live theater

And my new book A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FLING has 2 out of the 3! What a deal!


But seriously, folks, live theater has an energizing quality to it because anything might happen. I've seen productions where props broke, skirts ripped, even one where a light bulb exploded over an audience member's head. I've been in productions where one of our actors fell asleep backstage and missed his cue, where the lead actress leaned against gum right before her cue and ruined her costume. (OK, that last one happened to me…seriously, who puts gum on something at shoulder height??)

But it's not just the bad stuff that makes theater magic, of course; a big part of the wonder is simply sharing the same space as the people performing. You aren't just watching dead performances on an electronic screen--you're breathing the same air as these people, feeling the same heat or chill. And that's what makes theater magic so contagious.

I once saw Anything Goes performed live in a huge theater with a huge cast and it was AMAZING watching three dozen people tap dance together, live. Those tap beats are much more amazing when they're happening in real time.

I still get chills when I remember a production of Anthony & Cleopatra where actors rappelled down from the rafters and launched into a battle scene. I was in the front row and one of the actors nearly landed in my lap! Got my adrenaline going, I can tell you. And that is still one of my favorite theater memories. You just can't recreate that immediacy, that adrenaline jolt, with a movie screen, you know?

That lovely theater magic is what I tried to capture in my novel A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FLING, which features a pair of reunited lovers thrown together during a production of Shakespeare's most magical play. I've included an excerpt below, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed having a Roman soldier drop out of the sky. ;)

After dating her childhood sweetheart Max on and off for years, aspiring actress Nicola Charles is finally ready to move on. It’s time for her to focus on her stage career and stay away from Max–before he can break her heart again.

Max regrets hurting Nicola, but he wants another chance. So when his play loses its leading lady, giving Nicola the part seems like the perfect opportunity to win back his old flame.

But the course of true love—and a theater production—never do run smooth. As Max fights to reignite Nicola’s love, the onstage antics can’t rival the bedlam backstage: a neurotic cast, a prickly crew, and an evil diva of a director who’s got designs on Max.

As Nicola and Max battle to keep the drama onstage, Max can’t help wondering if their romance will end with the last performance. Or have the two of them finally captured what they’ve dreamed of all their lives? True Love.

Nicola, in character as Titania, stretched her legs out and pillowed her cheek on one hand to study him with simmering, heavy-lidded eyes.

Somehow, even though Nicola sat on a bare stage in blue jeans and a white shirt, somehow she managed to appear decadent, lush, pure temptation made of sweet, supple flesh. Venus waiting in her bower for Mars to ravish her. Cleopatra inviting Antony to negotiate terms for his surrender.

The sight of her was too much to resist. He maneuvered around behind her and sat. Resting an elbow on his knee, he reached forward and tucked a strand of soft brown hair behind her ear. He let his fingertip linger against the skin of her neck and she shivered at the contact. He didn't know if that was Nicola or just Nicola acting, but the sight had heat building low in his gut. "'How long within this wood intend you stay?'" his line came out throatier than he'd intended, the low rasp of a desperate man.

And dammit he was desperate. You'd think five years would have done something to dim his desire, but he found himself swamped by it, awash in images, wants.

Like right now he imagined everyone else gone. To lunch. To Hell. Wherever. Didn't matter. Just away. Then he'd be free to kiss Nicola until her mouth was swollen, to touch her skin and smell and taste her until she was trembling against him, then he'd ease her back flat on the stage and --

"'Perchance till after Theseus' wedding-day,'" she said, cutting into his thoughts. She tossed her head, shaking out her curtain of soft brown hair, projecting indifference, but it was a fragile façade to hide how much she wanted him to stay here with her.

As Oberon, or maybe using Oberon as an excuse, Max leaned into her shoulder and pressed a kiss to her collarbone. She shivered again, the instinctive tremble of a woman who was just as turned on as he was.

That wasn't acting, or not only acting.

One lucky reader who comments on this blog will be randomly selected to win an ecopy of my new release A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S FLING. Good luck!