Written on Water


95 pages
ISBN 0-88922-492-7
DDC C842'.54





Translated by Linda Gaboriau
Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp, a former professor of drama at Queen’s University, is
the author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


Michel Marc Bouchard is the award-winning author of 25 plays. Written on
Water is about a group of seniors who meet weekly to commit to paper the
events—large and small—that have marked their lives. But there has
been a flood and the recorded memories of the seniors, together with
their community structure, homes, and memorials, are strewn around the
countryside. To reverse the devastation, they have to put everything
back in order, to restore and rewrite, while a group of young volunteers
pull down the physical remains of what is left standing.

The play has obvious metaphorical underpinnings. The flood, like all
literary floods, represents the end of one world and the beginning of
another. The flood also represents social conformity and the
standardization of specific cultures, which makes the gathering of
collective memories a suspect or even a terrorist activity. The extended
metaphors are not only social (the elderly are seen as fit to occupy
only those territories that have been constructed by men in suits) but
also political in that our cultures and memories are, like the seniors
in the play, struggling against inevitable extinction. The flood that
places us all in danger comes from our neighbour to the south, which is
prepared to resort to lies and subterfuge in order to extend its
supremacy over the entire planet.

Wonderfully intelligent and deeply moving, Written on Water is a piece
of theatre that demands to be seen more than once.


Bouchard, Michel Marc., “Written on Water,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/17842.