Colours in the Storm


194 pages
ISBN 0-88754-587-4
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.


On July 6, 1917, Canadian painter Tom Thomson paddled past Waponeo
Island in Algonquin Park, ostensibly to fish. His upturned canoe was
discovered later that day and his body was recovered on July 16. The
endless conjecture over the mysterious circumstances surrounding
Thomson’s tragic death has obscured his accomplishments. Although Jim
Betts’s latest play touches on the mystery of Thomson’s death, its
central concern is the passions of his life.

Thomson essentially drifted through the first 35 years of his life, but
with the help of artists from the Group of Seven—especially A.Y.
Jackson, who was to become his creative mentor—Thomson became aware of
his artistic potential. At the time of his death, Thomson had all the
elements necessary to become a great painter. His intense love of the
North and technical command of the medium combined inspired and enabled
him to produce works of tremendous beauty and passion during the last
years of his life. One of the play’s major themes is the search for
artistic perfection. The songs and music are included at the end of the
text, while a complete piano/vocal score is also available.

Betts, an award-winning author of more than 10 plays for both adult and
juvenile audiences, has worked in professional theatre for 20 years.
Although now primarily a writer, he has worked as a director,
dramaturge, musical director, playwright, lyricist, composer, singer,
dancer, and actor.


Betts, Jim., “Colours in the Storm,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,