By Paul Fleischman
(Candlewick, Hardcover, 9780763627744, 96pp.)
Publication Date: August 9, 2005
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Aimed at a generation of short attention spans and a taste for razor-sharp comedy, the rapid-fire ZAP is a smart, farcical new play for high-school students that's ready to bring the house down.
When they're not dusting off the old classics — over and over — high-school drama departments are constantly in search of new material. But what play could possibly suit the point-and-click attention spans of kids born with remote controls in their cribs? Cue the lights for ZAP, a nonstop farce that juxtaposes seven different plays — performed simultaneously — with a comic genius reminiscent of masters from Monty Python to the Marx Brothers. Combining spot-on parodies of Anton Chekhov, Agatha Christie, Tennessee Williams, Samuel Beckett, Neil Simon and performance art and throwing in scenes from RICHARD III for good measure, ZAP flicks rapidly back and forth from play to play, with hilarious results. As characters from one play end up on the set of another, their befuddlement, exasperation, and brave attempts at improvisation are truly priceless. A hoot to read, ZAP is a dream to perform — as high schools in California, New York, and Florida have already discovered.
Paul Fleischman is the master of the multi-voiced, multilayered book for young readers. His Newbery Medal-winning JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES is an invitation to verbal duets, while BIG TALK, its sequel, gives us poems for quartets. Of ZAP, his first play, he says, "High schools are always putting on the same plays. I decided to give them something new." Paul Fleischman is also the author of A FATE TOTALLY WORSE THAN DEATH, a parody of teenage horror novels; DATELINE: TROY, a modernized retelling of Homer's epic poem; and the award-winning picture books SIDEWALK CIRCUS, THE ANIMAL HEDGE, and WESLANDIA.