Press release

To the extraordinary international success of Mr. Livingstone’s Bookshop, translated into more than eight languages, by the Spanish author and feelgood reference, Mónica Gutiérrez, we must now add this new novel whose creation has its roots in the magic and passion for literature that illuminates the whole of her work.

In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mónica Gutiérrez not only transports us to the experiences that happen behind the scenes, but also, with a great sense of humor, brings us closer to the most intimate and personal experience of each and every one of those who make up the cast of this theater company when facing the challenge of having to represent Macbeth, by William Shakespeare, perhaps one of the bloodiest and darkest works of the bard of Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Despite the many difficulties that actors and director have to face in order to bring this play to the stage, the author does not give up in her efforts to ensure that humor accompanies the protagonists of this A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Max Borges, after rubbing his eyes and opening them again, the three fairies of the Marbaden forest were still on stage reciting the first scene of the first act. “Before the sun sets,” said one of the beautiful nymphs in her crystalline voice. “On the moor,” continued her beautiful companion. Mr. Borges adopted what he hoped was his best disappointed expression—although it could be taken for a fairly passable imitation of a pterodactyl in great pain—and turned to Elsa Soler, his assistant director, with her lips pressed together. Elsa, who knew her director and had a pretty good idea of ​​what he must be thinking about the three witches, did not risk looking at him and kept her eyes fixed on the stage. “We will put makeup on them,” Elsa whispered, still without looking at him. “And Aurora’s costume will hide everything else. Have you seen the costumes? They are magnificent.” “Where are my witches?” —the director asked in the same tone of voice—. The originals. —Marisa is about to give birth, Marta said goodbye last week and Marbelis, despite being pregnant, is still there, playing the leading witch.

Elsa Soler became Max Borges’ assistant director after a chance meeting in a bar opposite the Faculty of Geography and History at the University of Barcelona, ​​desperate after not being able to get an appointment with her thesis professor. Max was being sought out to give a lecture. Elsa’s good talent not only got him to attend the lecture, but also got her hired to be his right-hand man, and an essential person for the director.

The turbulent world of the theatre had seduced her as she got to know it, and working with Max had been surprisingly easy and overwhelming at the same time. Elsa had tirelessly read comedies and dramas, classics and contemporary ones, tragicomedies, romances, duels to the death, moral and philosophical approaches… She had read theatre and more theatre. And while she followed the meticulous instructions – and the rigorous recommended bibliography – of the taciturn theatre director, a luminous and changing stage had gradually revealed its secrets to her. She had fallen in love with life on the stage with the immortal love of the kisses of Marlowe’s beautiful Helena.

The secondary characters, as in Shakespeare’s works, gradually gain presence and relevance as the plot unfolds: Max’s playwright advisor, Enzo Pooh, obsessed with the bard’s work and who subjects the company to endless sessions so that they understand what they are up against.

Enzo was so meticulously respectful of Will’s original texts that he refused to alter them in the slightest; he particularly hated modern adaptations (Elizabethan humour was Elizabethan) and he shunned like the plague any production that implied a historical and temporal setting other than the original. He was sickened by naked Hamlets running around the stage, by Romeos and Juliets in jeans, by the Taming of the Shrews in apocalyptic settings or by Henry V in concentration camps. Any freedom from setting, interpretation or disfigurement made him nauseous, made him want to beat up those responsible for such an aberration and made him want to run off to Stratford-upon-Avon to kneel on Will’s humble grave and make an act of contrition for someone else.

The actor who plays Macbeth, Pere Ricart, whose acting savoir faire improves noticeably with a few too many drinks.

Although he looked bad, that afternoon Pere Ricart played Macbeth perfectly. He looked concentrated and the lines of text came out of his throat with the precise restraint that so pleased the theatre director. A couple of years ago, Borges had attended a performance by Pere Ricart where his Tartuffe had been acclaimed by the public for its magnificent performance. The theatre director knew that he had acted completely drunk from the first to the last act, but he would have bet his five Butaca awards that no one else had noticed.

And finally, Margot Degard, the diva, who plays Lady Macbeth, and who is diagnosed with type two diabetes halfway through rehearsals.

Margot, who lived free from the shackles of age because divas could play the role of Lady Macbeth perfectly despite being almost twice the age of King Duncan himself, felt the pang of fear. The stage was her life. She had decided long ago, so long that she could not even remember, that she would die on it. But not like this, sick, enslaved by medication and turned into a shadow of herself. She would die whole, reciting without pause Medea’s final speech, Clytemnestra’s desperate farewells or Beatrice’s cheerful love advice.

Without wishing to reveal the ending of this entertaining novel, we can give you a spoiler-like statement: Elsa ditches Max Borges on the very day Macbeth premieres at the Fringe Festival and, to the surprise of readers and protagonists, they meet again in a small hotel on Skye Island, where even David William Donald Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, appears. Mónica Gutiérrez begs him “to forgive any impertinence she might have said in the highly unlikely event that he reads this novel, as it was never the writer’s intention to annoy or slander him.”


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