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Allan, Ted.

Toronto, Playwrights Canada, c1983. 76pp, paper, $4.95, ISBN 0-88754-382-0. Distributed by Playwrights Union of Canada. CIP

Grades 7 and up
Reviewed by Louise Griffith

Volume 14 Number 1
1986 January

Lies My Father Told Me is a highly successful nostalgia play about Jewish life in the Montreal of the 1920s. We see six-year-old David and his beloved rag-collecting grandfather on trips through the back lanes of the city, both shouting "Rags, clothes, bottles." David also loves his mother and his grandfather's decrepit old horse, Ferdela. Yet he comes to hate his father, Harry, as he gradually becomes aware of the lies his father tells. Zaida, the grandfather, helps David cope with his problems, such as learning Christian hymns at school, and hearing his father's unlikely stories of the inventions he thinks will make him rich. David manages very well with unsavoury neighbours, bankruptcy, and a baby brother, but is almost defeated when he loses his grandfather and the beloved horse.

Throughout the play are interspersed a number of songs. These combine with the humour and realism to produce a success. A narrator representing David's point of view introduces the thirty-nine short scenes. Fine for a class project, although some of the minor parts might need to be doubled. The many scene shifts require good lighting and a skilled lighting crew, or a creative director. Preferably both. Probably the street language used in places would not cause problems in most communities. The family situations, a new baby, a father's financial problems, an ornery grandfather, and unpleasant neighbours; these problems strike responsive chords everywhere. As a classroom text, the play could serve as the basis for some fruitful discussions. Let us hope for more fine plays from Ted Allan.

Louise Griffith, Agincourt, Ont.
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