143 pages
ISBN 0-921870-60-4
DDC C842'.54





Translated by Nigel Spencer
Reviewed by David E. Kemp

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


Marie-Claire Blais has been a dominant figure in Canada’s literary
landscape for more than 25 years. The author of some 20 novels, she is
also a playwright. Many of her short plays have never been read or
performed in English—a cultural gap that makes this collection of five
short plays a welcome introduction to her dramatic work.

“Wintersleep” is a tragicomic reworking of ritual and the medieval
morality play. With its doubling of characters, special effects, and
multimedia concept, it presents a very modern version of Everyman.
“Ghost of a Voice” is a play of antithesis; there is vastness and
intimacy, isolation and coming together, introspection and diffuseness,
and, above all, music and voice. In “A Couple,” a man and a woman
who have just returned from an extended vacation seek to define the
limits of knowledge and innocence, and spontaneity and control; subtext
in this play is all-important.

The setting of “Exile” is an anonymous prison in a country where
only the ruling elite has a clear vision of the future; the play’s
uprooted and bewildered characters are passive accomplices to their own
alienation. “Fever,” a two-hander featuring a man and a woman, fuses
inner dilemma, marital friction, and the search for human identity.

As Blais’s characters struggle to break free from inherited customs
and ideas in these plays, their world overflows with poetry and stunning


Blais, Marie-Claire., “Wintersleep,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,