This book explores the lives and exploits of a theater troupe in Renaissance Italy and the birth of theater itself. It is written in multiple voices of the various characters. The premise is interesting but it was hard to become very involved because of the multiple viewpoints. One was never sure whose story this was and the book's construction resisted identification with any one of the characters. It has a surreal feel, especially when the last character to speak does so while looking down from heaven after her own death. Still it was an interesting evocation of an age when actors were beginning the transition from a kind of improvised clowning to written drama.
I read this after having seen the musical of the same name. It is a very enjoyable book, especially for anyone with a knowledge of Commedia dell'Arte and the stock characters that come from that tradition. Not my favorite, but worth a read. And the musical isn't bad either.