Gala­had’s Fool

Con­rad Bishop El­iz­a­beth Fuller

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews - KAREN RIGBY

Word­work­ers (JUNE) Soft­cover $14.95 (196pp) 978-0-9997287-0-3

Con­rad Bishop and El­iz­a­beth Fuller reimag­ine the search for the grail in Gala­had’s Fool, an ex­per­i­men­tal, labyrinthine work that high­lights the all-con­sum­ing na­ture of art.

In this vis­ceral, af­fect­ing por­trayal of a wid­ower and pup­peteer, the griev­ing Al­bert Fisher sets out to write a new play; in his de­sire to honor his late wife’s call to bring peo­ple hope, he wres­tles with a Gala­had whose traits too closely re­sem­ble his worst.

Al­bert’s wak­ing hours of­ten bring up mem­o­ries of his wife and cocre­ator, Lainie. Chap­ters al­ter­nate be­tween trips to cafés; con­ver­sa­tions with his daugh­ter, Mara; mem­o­ries of his lengthy ca­reer; the work­man­like de­tails of pre­par­ing for Gala­had’s Fool; and meet­ings with Jeanette, a cos­tumer who spurs Al­bert for­ward.

As Al­bert puz­zles over what his char­ac­ters should do, his dreams un­fold in a lurid panorama. Snip­pets of the play he’s cre­at­ing ap­pear at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals; in­tru­sions ex­am­ine Al­bert’s views on how it is evolv­ing, re­sult­ing in a per­cep­tive ac­count of the tor­tur­ous writ­ing process. Wind­ing as the text be­comes, it’s a fit­ting anal­ogy for Al­bert’s life.

The sense of con­trol­ling the play’s di­rec­tion while still be­ing led by greater forces com­pli­cates Al­bert’s jour­ney. What Al­bert in­tended as a com­edy takes a sharp swerve when his char­ac­ters—in­clud­ing a fam­ily of tourists—in­tro­duce them­selves and re­al­ize a “god” (Al­bert) is build­ing their fu­tures. With­out turn­ing acer­bic, the play is at once an ex­or­cism and a cre­ation, al­low­ing the line be­tween the writer and the writ­ten to blur in a bril­liant clos­ing act.

Gala­had’s Fool takes themes of ag­ing, metacog­ni­tion, and loss to un­ex­pected places. Scenes skill­fully re­veal self-doubts and bursts of gen­er­a­tive in­sight. Al­bert’s deep investment in the project, which in­creas­ingly turns au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal, probes raw seams, but it’s there—in the tan­gled, ab­surd quest laced with dark­ness— that heal­ing be­gins.

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