Set amid the bustle of Victorian London, an irresistible story of an ambitious young Black actress, an orphan from the slums who has finally achieved a dubious stardom as “The Great Amazonia, a savage African queen”—but everything she has fought for depends on hiding the secret of her own identity.
As an orphan in the slums of St. Giles, Zillah was determined never to become part of the notorious Blackbird gang. With nothing to rely on but her own wit, she convinces infamous producer Marcus Stratton to hire her for his variety show in nineteenth-century London. But the act Stratton has in mind for Zillah is as The Great Amazonia, "a savage queen from darkest Africa.” His drunken audience laps this up, and as Zillah’s star rises, Stratton makes clear, in no uncertain terms, that her survival depends on her true identity staying secret. This careful planning is upended when Zillah finds herself caught between the attention of a mysterious Black gentleman and Stratton’s Viscount friend, who promises her the world. When another young Black woman in Stratton's employ goes missing, Zillah realizes she’ll have to make a choice: follow her ambitions, or stay true to herself. Theatre of Marvels is a thrilling love story, a piercing commentary on a brutal racial history, and a delicious Victorian adventure.