60 pages
ISBN 0-921368-53-4
DDC C812'.54





Photos by David Cooper
Reviewed by Sheree Haughian

Sheree Haughian is an elementary-school teacher-librarian in
Orangeville, Ontario.


In Dennis Foon’s latest drama, four angry young men share a code of
violence, a legacy from the macho world that encourages power by
domination. Brad, Andy, Tommy, and Shane have no parents or
compassionate advisors. Their role models are gang members, hockey
coaches, cadet commanders, and a dead father whose last rasps directed
his son to “be a man.” These teenagers communicate in an invented
language of the street (e.g., “I’ve been B.F.’d major”); their
conversation is a disjointed analysis of date rape, mutilation, life in
the war zone.

Although the play comprises only 26 pages of text (the book also
features an assortment of photos of the B.C. theatre production),
somehow the ordeal of hatred seems longer. When the culture of violence
is dramatized for adolescents, it is usually done in the context of
conflict resolution. If lasting peace cannot be neatly packaged by the
final scene, it is at least suggested as a future possibility. War holds
no such promise. It is blackness without glimmer, pain without
mitigation, heroes without valor.

Classical theory about tragedy justifies unhappy and violent endings as
catharsis for the audience, the purgation of pity and fear. Such a
reaction is based on a kind of civilized empathy with the characters.
Young spectators of War might feel their eyes moisten for the misguided
four; but they might be just as tempted to climb up on the platform and
pound the crap out of the punks. Most likely, though, they would shrug
off the whole staged performance and get on with the real world, vicious
or otherwise. Recommended with reservations.


Foon, Dennis., “War,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20119.