144 pages
ISBN 0-88922-428-5
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.


Drew Hayden Taylor is Canada’s leading Native dramatist. alterNatives
is in many ways his most controversial play.

Angel, an urban Native science-fiction writer, and Colleen, a Jewish
intellectual who teaches Native literature, have a dinner party. The
guests are couples who represent what by now have become the clichéd
extremes of both societies. On one side are Angel’s former radical
activist buddies; on the other are Colleen’s environmentally
concerned, vegetarian friends. The dinner conversation and the menu
itself—roast moose and vegetarian lasagna—highlight the considerable
cultural differences between the two societies.

In his lively foreword, the playwright informs us that 90 percent of
the dialogue comes from real life—nuggets of remarks and conversations
gathered over the years and stored away for future use. Hayden, who has
been accused of denigrating Native people on the one hand and
“witless, white-bashing” on the other, has in alterNatives created a
deft piece of Canadian social satire that should generate heated


Taylor, Drew Hayden., “alterNatives,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,