________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 1 . . . . September 8, 2000

cover Making Waves: Three Radio Plays.

Emil Sher.
Toronto, ON: Simon & Pierre, 1998.
139 pp., pbk., $18.99.
ISBN 0-88924-283-6.

Grade 11 and up / Ages 16 and up.

Review by Tom Knutson.

***.5 /4


Scene Eight: Courtroom
"I told him I wanted him to listen very carefully because this was a serious matter. I started by saying that we are not here to judge him. I understand the situation you are in and we empathize with you. We have no choice but to do the job we have to but at the same time we'll assist him in getting through this situation as best we can. 'We have spoken to several people. Everyone said the same thing that you are a caring person, a good person. At the same time, we know that this was not a natural death. Your daughter was in a great deal of pain. Doug, after considering all that is known, I have no doubt that you caused your daughter's death.'"
Corporal Pierce's courtroom testimony reflects the emotions and internal dilemmas expressed by the characters in Making Waves: Three Radio Plays, by playwright Emil Sher. Based on real events, Sher uses these works to explore moral and ethical issues that continue to rouse passionate public debate in Canada.
    "Mourning Dove," the story of Robert Latimer's first trial, raises the subject of mercy killing. Douglas Ramsey breaks the law in order to fulfill what he believes is his moral right to end his daughter's suffering by ending her life. In "Denial Is A River," Hannah is dying of AIDS and decides to record her first-hand experiences as a victim of the tainted blood scandal. Finally, tolerance and forgiveness are examined in "Past Imperfect," based on the Jean-Louis Roux case in Quebec. Diplomat Michel Beauchemin's humanitarian work is about to be recognized by the Canadian Jewish Council when a photograph from his youth threatens to tarnish a lifetime of social justice activism.
    Making Waves is a strong work due largely to its genre. The absence of elaborate character or setting description makes it easier for Sher to present cleanly the issues at the heart of each story. He employs just enough character development to illustrate individuals' conflicts with others, with society, and with themselves, expressing a wide range of complex and passionate viewpoints. Overall, the dialogue is realistic with well-paced lines that contribute both to mood and intensity.
    Making Waves is suitable for grades 11 and up and would make an excellent addition to any discussion on legal and ethical/moral issues, drawing readers and performers into the human stories that lie beyond the media headlines.

Highly Recommended.

Tom Knutson chairs the Young Adult and Children's Section of the BC Library Association.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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ISSN 1201-9364