The Power Plays


183 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88910-233-3





Reviewed by Renate Usmiani

Renate Usmiani was Professor of English at Mount St. Vincent University in Halifax.


“I’m tired of losing. It’s so... depressing,” says Power at the end of The Art of War last of the three Power Plays. Defeated, but still undaunted, Walker’s eccentric detective moves on to more of his absurdly pathetic and hilariously comical exploits.

One of Factory Theatre Lab’s earliest discoveries, George Walker has remained strictly within the alternative theatre circuit until recently. His outrageously exotic plays — with their ironic / absurdist tone, torrential language, abrupt shifts in tempo, and sheer incongruity — failed to appeal to regional theatres. Yet, as Ken Gass pointed out in 1978, “for all his dark preoccupations, Walker wants an audience and wants to entertain.” With The Power Plays, he has come closer to achieving that goal than ever before.

Gossip, Filthy Rich and The Art of War havebeen playing to regional theatre audiences individually; to have the entire trilogy available in book form will spread the popularity of the author to wider circles. Through the continuity of the three plays, the central character emerges as a strong and lovable anti-hero/hero figure. A sense of attrition runs through all three plays: the end of Gossip finds him in solitary communion with a bottle; Filthy Rich concludes on the death of a (non-existing?) uncle; and The Art of War on the victory of the powers of evil. Yet, the character conveys a sense of irrepressible energy; we look forward to seeing him at work again.


Walker, George F., “The Power Plays,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,