Friday, 2 October 2015

Atlantic Cannibalism

Mary Dalton celebrates Frank Barry's flesh-eating play, Wreckhouse, first performed in St. John's in 2002:
Bringing to bear on his creation a wide-ranging knowledge of modernist and contemporary European drama, Barry draws on Brecht and Beckett, among others, in creating a surreal world, a postindustrial wasteland inhabited by a small band of cannibals who survive by trapping stray tourists, dancing them through mockeries of the usual tourist rituals, and cooking them up at a "folk feastival." The premise is grim indeed, but the analysis is astute, and the language play is stunning. In addition to its other strengths, Wreckhouse captures the fizz and spit, the ragged energy, of Newfoundland speech. With Early Newfoundland Errors, a later radio play by Ed Riche,Wreckhouse casts a cold eye on the way we live now. It is at once a dazzlingly funny play, and one of the darkest works in the literature, as bitter a piece of social commentary as Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and Christopher Bond's play Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
(Illustration by Alberto Elia Violante)

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