CANADIAN DRAMA AND THE CRITICS.
Edited by L.W. Conolly. Vancouver. Talonbooks. 1987. 320pp, paper, $14.95. ISBN 0-88922-251-7. CIP
Volume 16 Number 6
This collection of critical articles and reviews is designed as a companion to three anthologies of Canadian drama published since 1984: The Penguin Book of Modem Canadian Drama*," Major Plays of the Canadian Theatre 1934-1984 (Irwin. 1984). and Modem Canadian Plays (Talonbooks, 1986). The need for critical material on Canadian drama is widely felt in the classroom, where discussion can always benefit from the stimulus and support of the written word.
The thirty-five plays reviewed here include a number that would be regarded as essential: Creeps (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Books on Demand (UMI)), for instance, The Ecstasy of Rita Joe (published in The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and Other Plays, General Publishing, 1982) and The Farm Show (Coach House Press. 1976). But the spread is broad and shallow. Choosing to cover as many anthologized plays as possible and supply a few deficiencies. Conolly provides a highly uneven quality of review and some notably thin scrapings. Space is given to plays that have only faint historic interest, such as Voadland's Hill-Land; there is one review of Gwen Ringwood's Drum Song and two reviews and a programme note for Reaney's The Canadian Brothers. Is this worthwhile? Substance is further eroded by a sequence based on chronology; consequently, it is not possible to read consecutively the reviews on a single playwright. Nor does the introduction discuss seriously the varied nature of the reviewing. Students need more guidance. This useful idea has been diminished in the execution.
Alan Thomas, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ont.
*Reviewed vol. XIII/2 March 1985 p.92.
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