We used to get standing ovations. Now we get ovations for standing.
The last place in which that great lady of the theatre Elspeth Quest wishes to spend her final years is Dustingford Hall, rest-home for retired actors and entertainers. Yet failing health and worse investments have led her to become a charity case here.
She blanches at the sight of various actors and actresses, in various degrees of physical and mental decline, with whom she has worked over the years but never really wished to see again. (Not to mention tap-dancers, ventriloquists, impressionists, contortionists!) Telling them all she is only here until her town house in Kensington has completed major structural improvements, she wonders how she is ever going to survive. Or, more importantly, explain her permanent stay.
But all these performers, who once lived purely for the present are now talking only of the past. As though simply waiting to die. When she observes the residents jeering en masse at a TV talent show, Elspeth sees her opportunity. She tells them to stop living in the past – they still have their talents – they should put on one tremendous final show for family, friends and trustees. And for themselves. It’s Christmas, for heaven’s sake. (And of course she will produce, direct and star!)
But will it truly give them all a new lease of life – or will they die trying?
"Funny and touching – brilliantly distinctive characters." David Lister, The Independent.
"A feel-good novel of considerable substance that will be loved by fans of The Thursday Murder Club." Petra Fried, BAFTA-winning producer. The Misfits. End of the F***ing World.
"Laugh-out loud on London Transport funny." Carolyn Pickles, Actress. Broadchurch. Harry Potter. Canterville Ghost.
"A truly charming read. A tale of ‘dramatic’ twists and turns." Francine White, Show business journalist
"Unpredictable, unsentimental, unputdownable." Daniel Peak, BAFTA-winning writer. Not Going Out. Code 404. Horrible Histories.
"Witty, touching and profound. No murders but plenty of ‘corpsing’. Mendelson’s best yet." Paul Harrison, BAFTA-winning director. Ballykissangel. A Touch of Frost.
Paul A. Mendelson is the BAFTA-nominated creator of several hit BBC family-comedy series, including May to December, So Haunt Me and the long-running My Hero, starring Ardal O’Hanlon. He co-created Neighbors From Hell for DreamWorks Animation, starring Steve Coogan, now streaming on Apple TV, and has written acclaimed drama for ITV and BBC Radio 4. Paul’s first novel, In the Matter of Isabel (2017), is being developed as a movie with a major Hollywood company. He is also the author of A Meeting in Seville (2018), based on his BBC Radio 4 play, The Art of Listening (2019), a thought-provoking short story collection and two children’s books; The Funnies (2020) and Losing Arthur (2017). His most recent novel (and screenplay) Must Have GSOH (2021) has been optioned by a major UK film company.
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