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MacIvor, Daniel
Toronto, Playwrights Canada Press, 1993. 101pp, paper, $14.95
ISBN 0-88754-524-6. CIP

Grades 12 and up / Ages 17 and up

Reviewed by Alan Thomas.

Volume 22 Number 6
1994 November/December

Maclvor writes a very smart play, abstract metadrama of a kind which could not have been written before Beckett. His reach is by no means as grand, however, nor is his tone as dire as that of the master. Never Swim Alone gives us, on a bare stage, two charac­ters in the garb of Everyman pitilessly engaged with each other in duels of wit. But their concerns are not the cosmic anxieties of Vladimir and Estragon. Maclvor's Frank and Bill compete to win put-downs of each other; their weapons are the standard situations and techniques of humiliation of the board­room and the bedroom.

This is Beckett without the metaphysics; consequently, the audience finds itself watching, in Never Swim Alone, a series of scenes — pocket plays — like soap opera in content, but bare and condensed in dialogue and action, sometimes with stylized move­ment and speech.

This is a Play is a brief, witty playlet which amazingly contains within itself two plays, the first being a turgid naturalist drama and the second a drama of the thoughts of the actors as they perform that drama. "Metatheatre" it might be called. The writing is clean and clever.

Either of these plays by Maclvor would be attractive material for school drama classes, being short three-handers, but they don't have the bulk to be the School Play.

Alan Thomas teaches literature at Scarborough College, University of Toronto, in Toronto, Ontario
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