Rogues and Vagabonds


316 pages
ISBN 0-7737-3320-5
DDC C813'.6




Reviewed by Susan Merskey

Susan Merskey is freelance writer in London, Ontario.


In medieval Britain, actors were popularly known as “rogues and
vagabonds.” In this novel, the phrase applies to a motley group of
characters who are brought together by their shared love of the theatre.
Beginning in 1940s England and concluding with the 20th-anniversary
season of the Arden Festival on the shores of Lake Erie, Ontario, in
1985, Rogues and Vagabonds unfolds in a series of “acts,” each of
which is divided into episodes or chapters.

Theo Malloy, a World War II evacuee in Shropshire, England, emerges as
a promising actor. His mentor, Dame Arabella Thamesford, becomes his
lifelong inspiration as well as the source of his stage name. In 1961,
he opens the North American Academy of Dramatic Art in Toronto, with
Mitch Blakely serving as Assistant Artistic Director. Theo’s next
venture, the Arden Shakespearean Festival, flourishes notwithstanding
its relative proximity to the larger Stratford Festival—until he
decides to stage Macbeth.

Marilyn Lightstone is an award-winning stage, screen, and television
actress and the founding “voice” of the Bravo! television channel.
Her intimate knowledge of the dramatic, technical, and sociological
aspects of the theatre is evident throughout the book, and numerous
incidents are clearly based on real events. There are many descriptive
gems, including the lore surrounding the contents of Theo and Mitch’s
well-worn makeup boxes. Theatre buffs will definitely enjoy
Lightstone’s first novel. I hope it will not be her last.


Lightstone, Marilyn., “Rogues and Vagabonds,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 16, 2024,