Cues and Entrances


276 pages
ISBN 0-7715-1002-0
DDC C812'.04108




Edited by Henry Beissel
Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp is chair of the Drama Department at Queen’s University
and author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


This revised anthology of one-act plays written by Canadian playwrights
for young Canadians is likely to become as seminal a book for secondary
schools today as the original was nearly two decades ago.

In his perceptive introduction, Henry Beissel observes that there is a
greater awareness about the world’s problems among the young today
than there was in 1976. The updated Cues and Entrances responds to this
new consciousness among the young by including plays that deal honestly
and directly with the world in which they are growing up. Janice
Wiseman’s powerful play O.D. deals with the emotional and sexual abuse
of children. Dennis Foon’s Liars is a tough and probing drama about
parental neglect and alcoholism, while Ruth Smillie’s Teenage Moms is
a sensitive and moving play about teenage mothers trying to raise their
babies on their own.

In Once upon a Great Stage, Beth McMaster combines a lesson in Greek
drama with a telescoped enactment of Sophocles’ Antigone. Peter
Cummings’s Snowdreams is a lively and colorful comedy about
immigrants, and something of a historical tour de force.

Of the original collection of plays, only three remain: George Ryga’s
Indian still stands as a stark indictment of the exploitation and
humiliation of our Native people; Mavor Moore’s Customs still has
force as we witness an ordinary citizen being stripped of his identity
by bureaucratic chicanery; and Beissel’s own play Crying Out Loud is
an impressive comic fantasy about the future.

Quite simply, this is the best anthology of one-act plays available for
young Canadians.


“Cues and Entrances,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 24, 2024,