The Comedian by Clem Martini

The Comedian by Clem Martini

Clem Martini comes to the blog with something very different: a story written about an early playwright during the formative years of theater in

The Comedian

Set in the ancient Roman Republic, around 195 B.C., this is the story of the very real Plautus (Titus Maccius Plautus), author of around 130 works, known for reworking or using ancient Greek dramas and comedies to influence / inform his work. In this story, we see the building of the troupe, his struggles and plotting, and some clever foreshadowing that actually takes place in the story as the plot moves forward.

Characters in this story are presented as hopeful, if untrained actors with varying degrees of experience and struggling with the unexpected (yet wholly welcomed) insets and a sense of the place and time: a republic in the throes of world (or known at that time) domination, the sights and places in the city, the people with their own prejudices, social structure and moments that feel purely human, all while following one artist’s journey in his creation of something to last and make a mark on his present day.

Stories written by playwrights are rarely my cup of tea, but this one managed to present both the historical characters in ways unexpected, along with a sense of the time and a bit of ‘play within play’ that leaves readers wondering if life imitates art, or if the reverse is true. Clever in ways that appeal to the history geek in me, with descriptions that bring the ancient city to light in ways that fiction often does, the story will appeal to those who want a little different in their TBR pile.

The Comedian by Clem Martini

Title: The Comedian
Author: Clem Martini
Genre: Comedic Elements, Historical Fiction, Pre- A.D., Setting: Roman Republic
Published by: University of Calgary Press
ISBN: 1552389774
Published on: 21 February, 2018
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Pages: 374
Rated: four-stars
Get Your Copy: Amazon Barnes&Noble Direct from Publisher
See this Title on Goodreads

In the Roman Republic, comedy is a serious business. Nobody knows this better than Titus Maccius Plautus, the principal comic playwright of his time. Licking his wounds after a series of artistic flops and financial disasters, Plautus returns from his refuge in the country to Rome, desperate to produce a new play.

With limited financial backing provided by tough and striking bar owner Casina, Plautus recruits a company of actors from the amateurs and cast-offs he can afford. Led by a disreputable drunk who just happens to have a pedigree with one of the most respected traveling Greek acting guilds, the motley company unites an eccentric cast of characters on and off the stage. From Orestes, Plautus' dour, thrifty director to the eager but untrained neophyte, Fronto, to the debt-plagued Plautus himself, each has a role to play, and each is not quite what they seem.

Can this company of misfits come together in time - and remain together long enough - to find success on the stage? With his creditors closing in, can Plautus stay one step ahead, or will he be finished, once and for all? Redolent with the sights and scents of the ancient world, this novel is a rowdy, boisterous ride through the realm of theater in its infancy.

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.


About Clem Martini

Clem Martini is an award winning playwright, novelist, and screenwriter.

Martini has over thirty plays, and ten books of fiction and nonfiction to his credit, including the Calgary Book Award-winning Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness and the internationally acclaimed young adult trilogy, The Crow Chronicles. He has served on the boards of numerous writing organizations including the Alberta Playwrights Network (Vice President), the Playwrights Guild of Canada (President), and the Canadian Creative Writers and Writing Programs (founding President). His texts on playwriting, The Blunt PlaywrightThe Greek Playwright, and The Ancient Comedians are employed in universities and colleges across the country. In addition to writing, he is the Chair of Drama in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary.


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