Red Mango


62 pages
ISBN 1-895636-38-8
DDC 812'.54





Reviewed by Ian C. Nelson

Ian C. Nelson is librarian emeritus and former Assistant Director of
Libraries (Collection Management & Budget) University of Saskatchewan
Library and Dramaturge for the Festival de la Dramaturgie des Prairies.


Charles Tidler is a poet and spoken jazz artist who has written nine
plays, including the award-winning Straight Ahead & Blind Dancers
(1981). Red Mango, a blues dialogue for a male actor and a guitarist,
was first performed in 2000 at the Belfry Theatre in Victoria. Part
monologue, part travelogue, the play is divided into 15 short pieces
(given as “the set list”) that take the audience or reader through
various bars and coffeehouses of Victoria as the protagonist seeks out
musical blues and sensual experiences.

In the introduction, John Cooper, the director of the original
production, describes Red Mango as “the diary of a celibate
sensualist, flip-flopping between states of desire and reluctance […]
more a performance piece than a well-made play.” The poetic “set”
pieces suggest a rather loose linear action with evocation of recurring
characters (including a notable waitress and the man’s son) jostling
and bumping into the protagonist in his pursuit of the blues atmosphere
and the sensual company of women (at one point, he calls himself “the
horny sensualist” before taking refuge once more into the sobriquet
“celibate”). Tidler’s talent for the dramatic and his flair for
human comedy are especially evident in a gripping piece entitled “Here
Am I.”

The published script is attractive and interesting, although, of
course, the reader does not have the advantage of the whole theatrical
conception with visual cues, lighting, and particularly the
“dialogue” between guitarist and performer. There is a challenge
here for publishers: does one limit the publication to an attractive
presentation of the printed word (as this example is), or does one take
the plunge and include other media (CD or DVD)?


Tidler, Charles., “Red Mango,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,