The Leisure Society


96 pages
ISBN 0-88922-531-1
DDC C842'.54





Translated by Bobby Theodore
Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson, Librarian Emeritus, former Assistant Director of
Libraries (University of Saskatchewan) and dramaturge (Festival de la
Dramaturgie des Prairies).


Franзois Archambault, a 1993 graduate of the National Theatre School,
has already achieved a reputation as a sharp social satirist. His first
professionally produced play, Cul sec (Fast Lane), created much media
controversy. Another of his plays, Si la tendance se maintient, about
the referendum on Quebec sovereignty, ran with considerable critical
brouhaha during the referendum campaign. 15 secondes received a Governor
General’s Award in 1998, and Bobby Theodore’s English translation of
it was short-listed for the same award in 2000. La société des loisirs
was a 2003 GGA finalist and received the “Masque” for the Best
Original Play from the Académie Québécoise in 2004.

The Leisure Society is so deft and nimble that it is impossible to tell
that one is actually reading a translation of Archambault’s original
play. It is a wild roller coaster of a romp that is hysterically funny
even as it sets off inner alarm bells at virtually every turn. In an
opening question-and-answer scene reminiscent of A Chorus Line, a
married couple with one child insist rather too vehemently that they
love each other, that they are happy, and that they intend to adopt a
visible-minority child to make their family complete. The rest of the
play brings in their best friend, Mark, 35, and his current sleeping
partner, a young woman of barely 21, and charges along in sketch fashion
to expose their lives of superficial consumerism, off-the-rails
child-rearing, trendy erotic fantasies, and glib conversation that moves
from euphemistic lies to betrayals and socially awkward pauses. Many
readers will find at least three or four pages of the wildly
entertaining dialogue to have crossed the line because of subject matter
or language, but the precise offending pages will differ according to
one’s personal attitudes and sensitivities. The reaction is certainly
intended, because Archambault portrays a society that should be raising
an alarm.

A brilliant play by a latter-day Moliиre with an incisive Swiftian
twist, it is highly recommended, but note the caveat about subject
matter and language.


Archambault, François., “The Leisure Society,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 13, 2024,