Book Review: If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Published April 2017
Shakespearean acting students enact their own tragedy on the real-life stage.
People passionate about their professions sometimes semi-consciously sprinkle bits of it into their own identities. Think about the pianist whose fingers start fluttering to the keys of a song playing on the radio. The tire technician who can spot a flat across a crowded parking lot. The language teacher who speaks in a mix of both English and Spanish.
The characters of If We Were Villains donâ€™t just act Shakespeare. They ARE Shakespeare.
They sprinkle Shakespearean lines into every sentence, every situation, and conundrum. Itâ€™s wooooonderful!
As our characters find, Shakespeare was prolific that thereâ€™s a line for practically every situation:
“Out, damned spot! out, I say!” – Macbeth
At the ice cream store:
“Can one desire too much of a good thing?” – As You Like It
After my teen kid has visited the fridge:
“He hath eaten me out of house and home.â€ – King Henry IV
What I say to myself as I write these book reviews:
“Brevity is the soul of wit.â€ – Hamlet
Of course, the situations in If We Were Villains are a lot less mundane, and these burgeoning adults live life like a tragedy. They are full of passion, rage, beauty, vim, vigor, loyalty, and contempt.
This small group of actors is like a family who almost hate how much they love and need each other. Their protective bubble-like existence is of course bound to pop; each of the characters has too many sharp corners.
If youâ€™re a literary nerd like me or have any experience with theatre life, youâ€™ll swoon over some of these pages, and mourn the avoidable downfall of Oliver (Iâ€™m not spoiling anything here; the story is told in flashback from our main character after he has spent a decade in jail).
One of the acting exercises is most telling. Oliver’s partner tells him heâ€™s all about the other person. He ceases to exist in the scene; bringing the otherâ€™s actions into high, almost oversaturated vibrance.
In this story, life imitates art imitates life.