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Robertson Davies
Toronto, Simon & Pierre Publishing, 1991. 121pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-88924-225-9. CIP

Grades 11 and up/Ages 16 and up

Reviewed by Gina Varty.

Volume 20 Number 2
1992 March

If truth is beauty, and as T.S. Eliot said, "human kind cannot bear much reality," then what more beautiful guise is there for truth than theatricality, where the dialogue, setting and acting are somewhat larger than life?

Although written and performed more than forty years ago, both of the successfully performed plays in this volume speak to the basic truths of life in any day: the yearning for what might have been and the temptation of discontent about something that never was. In short, finding escape in tall talk and dreams. A further truth the distinguished playwright offers in these two abstractions from Canadian life is their theme: "the true cost in pain and bitterness of intellectual starvation."

At My Heart's Core is about pioneers Susanna Moodie, Catharine Parr Trail and Frances Stewart, who experience cultural deprivation and discontent in the Canadian backwoods during the Rebellion of 1837 {in three acts; cast: five females), while Overlaid, set over a century later, deals with a Canadian farmer and his daughter and their confrontation over a richer cultural life (in one act; cast: two males, one female).

This volume would be a valuable addition to any library as it includes the playwright's detailed introduction to the two works, a short essay by Herbert Whittaker commenting on dialogue entitled "Our Changing Speech," a biography of Robertson Davies, and notes for each play explaining the unusual words and phrases. But its intrinsic value lies in the beauty of its truth.

Gina Varty, Edmonton, Alta.
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