Review: Paul Rudnick's Charming 'Playing The Palace' Reminds Us To Be Careful What We Wish For

by Christopher Verleger

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 25, 2021

Review: Paul Rudnick's Charming 'Playing The Palace' Reminds Us To Be Careful What We Wish For

Who said you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet a handsome prince?

Carter Ogden, the narrator of playwright, screenwriter, and novelist Paul Rudnick's enchanting romantic comedy, "Playing the Palace," unwittingly takes Buckingham Palace by storm when he crosses paths with the heir to the throne, Prince Edgar of Wales, the orphaned, openly gay grandson of Queen Catherine of England.

Pushing thirty and recently single, Carter ekes out a living as an event planner while sharing an apartment in Hell's Kitchen with two roommates. When his latest assignment features Prince Edgar as the keynote speaker, Carter barely expects to catch a glimpse from afar of His Royal Highness, so imagine his surprise when the Prince arrives early and asks Carter if he wouldn't mind listening to his speech and sharing any advice on how to connect with the audience.

What begins as an impromptu lesson in how to behave more like a regular guy than royalty quickly evolves into a whirlwind romance, where everything that can go wrong does - horribly, and for all the world to see, courtesy of social media and the public's appetite for tabloid fodder. Nevertheless, Edgar soldiers on, determined to give his relationship with the hopelessly pessimistic Carter a fighting chance, much to the chagrin of his grandmother, whose consternation stems more from her disdain for commoners than her duty to uphold custom or tradition.

Relationship obstacles are familiar territory for Rudnick, whether it's the closeted school teacher from "In & Out" or the HIV+ love interest in "Jeffrey," yet the author's trademark wit and endearing character interplay never fails to inspire the reader to root gleefully and unashamedly for a couple that is seemingly doomed from the start (or exists only in fairy tales).

While the British royal family heavily influences this romantic adventure, the author proudly reminds the reader that Carter's New Jersey tribe is a formidable force, not to be ignored or underestimated. Queen Catherine's testy temperament pales in comparison to the hilarious antics of Abby, Carter's high-strung sister, and the impropriety of his idiosyncratic Aunt Miriam. Family is another prevalent element of Rudnick's writing, and these two gentlemen are incontrovertible products of their environments.

Despite the arguably outlandish premise, "Playing the Palace" is a charming, funny, highly entertaining love story that reminds us what might happen if we were to get what we wish for.

Paul Rudnick's "Playing The Palace" is now available from Berkley Jove.

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.