Seesaw

Description

57 pages
$11.95
ISBN 0-921368-35-6
DDC jC812'.54

Author

Year

1993

Contributor

Photos by Hubert Pantel
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.

Review

Dennis Foon, co-founder and longtime director of Green Thumb Theatre in
Vancouver, is unquestionably Canada’s best young people’s
playwright. Through his writing he has sensitively introduced young
audiences to subjects long thought taboo: racism, incipient violence,
and child sexual abuse. In 1989, Foon was honored with an International
Arts for Young Audiences Award. His work is recognized across Canada and
internationally for its relevance, imagination, and brilliant
theatricality.

In Seesaw, Foon examines how the balances and trusts that exist between
children and their friends, parents, and society are in a state of
constant flux. Things remain constant for only short periods of time,
and changing relationships and situations continually alter values and
undermine confidence. The play focuses on Charla, who is new at school,
nervous about her shabby clothes, and understandably upset about her
parents’ marital break-up. Her new friend, Paige, seems to be
concerned only with the latest fashions, the latest gossip, and her
good-looking boyfriend; Foon is remarkably adept at suggesting the
emptiness of Paige’s life without preaching or moralizing. Josh, an
underdog with hidden potential, is a typical Foon character. Shy and
timid and something of a loner, neglected by his career-minded parents,
he resorts to magic to make himself disappear when being victimized by
the school bully, Adam. Yet even Adam elicits our sympathy when we learn
that he is only passing on the violence he encounters at home.

In New Canadian Kid, Foon used the device of having his new immigrant
student speak in English while the Canadians speak gibberish. He creates
an equally compelling conceit in this play by having the adult
characters represented only by puppets and inanimate objects—a touch
of theatrical genius. The dialogue and plot of Seesaw are totally
relevant to youngsters, as are the characters and situations Foon uses.
A splendid play for its age range. Highly recommended.

Citation

Foon, Dennis., “Seesaw,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/20476.