Canada’s master playwright applies his trademark black humour and incredibly crisp dialogue to the family and multiculturalism.
We the Family follows the ripple effects within two culturally and racially divergent families when their children wed. The list of characters in We the Family reads like an ethnic joke, which, indeed, it is, at least in part: the son of the main characters, David and Lizzie Kaplan, a Jewish–Irish-Catholic mixed marriage, marries the daughter of Jenny Lee, a Chinese-Canadian widow. The supporting cast includes a Russian, a Palestinian, and an Italian, with Pakistanis, Sicilians, and still more Russians offstage in the wings.
By the end of the play, Walker has deconstructed the dysfunctional Kaplan and Lee families and family love as well. Through the play’s pervading treachery, with family members and lovers betraying each other in horrific ways, he satirizes the hypocrisy of expounding family values while behaving with vicious preoccupation. These hyphenated Canadians certainly aren’t “nice,” and no quantity of “sweet-and-sour matzah balls” (which the Kaplan matriarch serves at the multicultural wedding reception) can hide the nasty taste.
Cast of 3 men and 7 women.
About the author
George F. Walker
George F. Walker is one of Canada’s most prolific and widely produced playwrights. His work has been honoured with eight Chalmers Awards and five Dora Awards. His plays Criminals in Love and Nothing Sacred each won Governor General’s Awards for Drama. In 1999 Talonbooks released The East End Plays: Part One (which includes Criminals in Love, the Chalmer’s Award-winning Better Living, and Escape from Happiness) and The Power Plays (a collection containing Gossip, Filthy Rich, and The Art of War).
Reviews for Parents’ Night
“As in all of Walker’s best work, there is a lot happening on several levels. We laugh at the foibles of parents and teachers as Walker piles misfortune on coincidence on looming disaster. It is extremely funny and bitingly satirical. But then we are aware of a deep sadness under the surface. These are human beings struggling to survive against harsh odds and in the most taxing of circumstances. There is also abundant compassion for teachers. Deeper still is Walker’s smouldering anger at the floundering educational system and at a society that actively discriminates against the poor and the marginalized.”
– Toronto Star
Reviews for The Bigger Issue
“The Bigger Issue is, well, a bigger play in terms of what it tackles. But the confrontations here are economic as well as educational; the difference between haves and have-nots drive the action, and not just in the classroom.”
– NOW Toronto
Other titles by George F. Walker
People Live Here
Three plays: The Chance, Her Inside Life, and Kill the Poor
Moss Park and Tough!
The Bobby and Tina Plays
Moss Park and Tough! ebook
The Bobby and Tina Plays
And So It Goes
The East End Plays: Part 1
The East End Plays: Part 2