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John Lazarus
Toronto, Playwrights Canada Press, 1991. 115pp, paper, $9.95
ISBN 0-88754-500-9. (Cover title: Homework & Curtains). CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Melanie Fogel

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Here we have two one-act plays. The central character in each is Murray Greenspan, a forty-year-old family man, with the empha­sis on family.

In Homework for Men, Murray finds himself confronted by his sixteen-year-old son Zalman, who's calling himself Elton. He has a flashback to himself at Zalman's age (when he was calling himself Ray) and to his relation­ship with his own father. One actor plays Murray and his father, and the other plays Zalman and Murray at Zalman's age. The generation gap lies not only between parent and child but also between Murray as a youth and Murray as a man. It's not a new concept, but it's handled very well.

Curtains for a Crazy Old Lady takes place in a hospital room, where Murray's mother is dying, and facing it more bravely than he is. Again Murray has a flashback to his youth, but here the actor is intended to convey a child only by his demeanour and language. (This difference in technique could be confusing to an audience, but is should be noted that the plays can be produced indep­endently of each other.) A third actor plays a nurse-companion, Murray's mother in the flashbacks, and all the minor characters.

Both plays are permeated by music: Homework by the Beatles and Curtains by Mozart. Presumably this is to indicate that Murray is very much a man of his time, with no esoteric tastes. Perhaps this is why he comes off as being very real, but not as interesting as his mother and son.

Melanie Fogel, Ottawa, Ont.

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