Instant Applause


185 pages
ISBN 0-921368-38-0
DDC C812'.04108054




Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp is chair of the Drama Department at Queen’s University
and the author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


This anthology of 26 complete plays, each lasting no longer than 10 to
15 minutes, can fit a number of theatrical needs and experiences. These
plays can be read for pleasure, used in the classroom, or staged as part
of a dramatic anthology program.

There is certainly a wide variety of emotions and situations contained
within these short plays, although some work much better than others.
The playwrights range from such well-known writers as Carol Shields,
Dennis Foon, Norm Foster, Rachel Wyatt, and Sharon Pollock, to
lesser-known contributors.

The plays certainly run the gamut of interesting locales: one is set
inside the stomach of a whale, another on a golf practice tee, and a
third in a small aircraft just before take-off. The problem with very
short plays like these is that there is very little time to document the
real nature of any human dilemma or relationship, let alone set it in
any kind of context. The plays that work best focus on a fleeting moment
of human experience that in very much the same way as a poem, heightens
our understanding by its very brevity and intensity. I especially liked
the poignancy of Rachel Wyatt’s Confinement, Mark Owen’s

Accidental Death of a Salesman, and David Gillies’s Fade to Black; and
Colleen Curran’s Whale Watch is very funny.

Not all of these plays are gems; but most, quite remarkably, deliver a
significant dramatic impact.


“Instant Applause,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,