72 pages
ISBN 1-896239-64-1
DDC C812'.54




Reviewed by David E. Kemp

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


Playwright, poet, and novelist Tom Walmsley was born in Liverpool and
came to Canada in 1952. A high-school dropout, he was addicted to heroin
and then alcohol for much of his adolescence and early adulthood. Blood
has as its springboard Walmsley’s relationship with his sister, who
died at a young age, although he goes out of his way to state that the
play is not autobiographical. The idea of a woman having sex with her
bisexual brother while being observed by a paying client is unsettling
to say the least, but by imbuing his characters with a vulnerable
humanity, Walmsley makes us pay attention to them. He cleverly analyzes
the moral dilemmas faced by the estranged brother and estranged sister,
and manages to find redeeming humor in any situation, however sordid.
The situations and dialogue recall early Sam Shepard, but the tone is
harsher and less poetic. Very few things are what they seem to be, and
the pair’s transactions over drugs, sex, power, love, and death have a
sinewy strength that somehow transcends the mundane and the ordinary.
Walmsley writes with a power and veracity that is fiercely informed by
personal experience.


Walmsley, Tom., “Blood,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,