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Pinsent, Gordon.

rev. ed. Toronto, Playwrights Canada, c1984. 115pp, paper, $5.45, ISBN 0-88754-059-7.

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Warner Winter

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Award-winning actor, television star, and writer Gordon Pinsent's first attempt at writing a play was in the early 1970s and the play was John and the Missus. But Pinsent did not think it commercially viable and he therefore wrote The Rowdy-man, a great success. After he moved to Toronto he went back to work on John and the Missus and produced a novel and a screenplay in 1974. The movie was never produced but the script was adapted for stage and had its premiere at the Neptune Theatre, Halifax in 1976. A second revised production was presented by Ottawa's National Arts Centre in 1981 and Playwrights Canada has now come out with an inexpensive paperback of that script.

John and the Missus is about a Newfoundland town which is slowly dying because its copper mine is becoming depleted and its residents are leaving. The play focuses on John Munn, a miner who does not want to abandon the town of his ancestors; his long suffering wife; and his son, newly married, who would like to leave but is reluctant to disobey his father. A kind of Greek/Newfoundland chorus figure in the form of Old Fudge stands outside guiding John and advising him to stay with his ancestors. Fudge's advice is eventually ignored.

The characters are strong, the language powerful. There is often a problem with stage epics as they do not usually work very well. But in this case the humour and the complete lack of sentimentality make this play a most compassionate, honest, and moving story.

Warner Winter, North York, Ont.
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