Blood on Steel: «Joyride» and «Heartspent and Black Silence»


122 pages
ISBN 0-920336-80-9
DDC C812'.54




Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is assistant director of libraries at the University of
Saskatchewan, and président de la Troupe du Jour, Regina Summer Stage.


This volume comprises two plays by Michael Melski, who was the
playwright-in-residence at the Shaw Festival in 1995.

Joyride was first produced at the Atlantic Fringe Festival in 1994. Its
three characters move aimlessly from one bleak Sydney location to
another before hatching an ill-fated scheme to rob a convenience store
owned by “Dirty Dan the Porno Man,” who had let them hang around
while they were growing up—a sometimes positive thing for kids who
“were fuckin born ripped off.” The conflicted characters vacillate,
because “it’s our store.” At the end of this gripping work, a
tragic event leaves its benighted characters asking, “Where we

First produced at the On the Waterfront Festival in Dartmouth in 1995,
Heartspent and Black Silence is a two-character play set on the grounds
of Tartan Downs in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Shelly is trying to recover from
postpartum depression. The couple, whose philosophy is “If ya have
some dreams, then ya never get so low ya can’t get up,” have only
one more welfare cheque coming and a guaranteed tip for one of the
races. We await the inevitable disaster with the same horrified
attention that people bestow on traffic accidents.

An afterword by Dr. Rod Nicholls focuses on the “elemental realism”
of Melski’s “corrosively authentic” dialogue.


Melski, Michael., “Blood on Steel: «Joyride» and «Heartspent and Black Silence»,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,