ISBN: 0920486630

Post Your Opinion
A Review of: Breakout
by Lia Marie Talia

"These five young playwrights have courage in abundance; the courage to look at themselves, the courage to say what they think, and the courage to explore how they feel." In his introduction to this anthology of five up-and-coming Manitoban playwrights, Brian Drader, himself an accomplished and sensitive playwright, highlights the unflinching honesty with which these emerging prairie writers examine some of the dramatic tensions marking human lives. The plays, selected by Drader, include playwrights from Manitoba's Young Emerging Playwrights Program and other young writers from the province. Importantly, these plays aren't characterized by a regional perspective. The playwrights tackle a number of controversial issues, including the fragility and inadequacy of familial bonds, and the persistence of prejudice despite the diversity of Canadian culture. They also address universal problems related to compassion and religious faith, the challenges of finding a romantic partner, and the alienation sometimes associated with young love.
Ginny Collin's The Good Daughter is a genre-blending black comedy that incorporates elements of documentary, farce, and domestic drama. The play is set in a small cabin on the prairies, and explores the complicated relationship between two sisters, Laurel and Janice, and the source of much of their conflict, their mother, Ms. Quinn. The sisters cope with various difficulties, caused by the 1930s dustbowl and the need to care for their ailing mother, either by running rum or drinking substantial quantities of it. This inevitably leads to a power struggle, as they jostle for attention and influence. The unexpected ending leaves the drama unsettled, reinforcing the notion that there are no easy resolutions to familial dysfunction, only tenuous and temporary truces.
Shades of Brown, by Primrose Madayag Knazan, explores the experiences of three women, Sienna, Malaya, and Sandy, who attempt to relate to each other and their audience across cultural divides. The description of the play reads, "White, yellow, black, we're all just shades of brown," and it successfully illustrates this concept through a fragmented dialogue that blends the views of the three young women from diverse backgrounds. Sienna is a coconut, "brown on the outside, white on the inside"; she's an Asian girl who was raised in Canada, yet feels culturally displaced. Malaya is a FOB', which stands for "fresh off the boat." She is a Filipino immigrant who does not feel she belongs in her adopted country. Sandy is a Caucasian girl who is labeled a rice lover because her friends are mostly Asian. Sandy can't understand why these friends have difficulty accepting her. All three seek a community' to which they can belong. This highly visual, richly textured, and accessible script highlights the subtle incidence of racism in Canada and the irony that it exists within a country known for its diversity and tolerance. However, the script also reinforces the idea that Canadian culture is distinguished by both contrasts and compromises. In response to Northrop Frye's assertion (made in 1965) that Canadian literature is disturbed by the question, "Where is here?", this play, like other recent Canadian work, ends with each young woman's confident assertion of personal cultural legitimacy and her right to place-"I belong here."
Joseph Aragon's To Forgive, Divine is a realist drama that examines the issue of faith in relation to present-day violence and its consequences. Like Morley Callaghan, Aragon presents troubled, intriguing characters who believe in the redemptive power of Christian love. Father Nick Domingo is a young priest, attempting to bring "fresh, exciting challenges to people." What he doesn't know is just how much his fusty secretary Dolores and her recalcitrant daughter, Joyce, need his assistance, and how crucial it is for them to sustain a steady, solid kind of faith that can help them come to terms with their sorrow and each other. Slowly, Father Nick learns of the tragedy that fractured their family and helps them understand that faith can still work and that forgiveness is one of its clearest signs.
Rose Condo's play, pyg, is an extended monologue that examines a young woman's attempts to find love through the video personals. Rose introduces herself to the audience in her own video spot as number 57513, and the play chronicles her journey through the complicated terrain of bars, beauty tips, and shopping trips as she makes a desperate attempt to be the kind of woman men desire. Inviting the confidence of the audience, Rose reveals how lonely and frustrating it can be to try to "secure a soul-mate." While she fails to meet her match, the play ends with her recognizing that she must reject the commodification of herself and learn to appreciate her own essential worth.
David Ferber's PACT examines five young people's elaborate plan for a group suicide. The near unbearable self-absorption of the characters illustrates the precarious balance of the teenage ego. October, the protagonist, is a young woman past the edge of a nervous breakdown. On the eve that she is to commit suicide with her equally alienated lover, Charlie, and their friends, she struggles to resist the overwhelming momentum of the group's resolve. As she revisits the events leading up to this night, she acknowledges the futility of the plan. Trying to come to terms with who they are in relation to their world, these teens see no way of overcoming their problems, but to act out an irreversible protest. The darkness of the play's end, accented by Billie Holiday's "Stormy Weather", illustrates the potentially calamitous consequences of youthful abandon.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us