Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Review: The Bootlegger Blues by Drew Hayden Taylor
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Source: Personal Book
Rating: 4/5 Stars
This new comedy by the author of Toronto at Dreamer's Rock and Education Is Our Right is about love, family, and what to do with too much beer.A Set on a reserve, it follows the plight of Martha, a church-going, teetotaling woman who finds herself stuck with 143 cases of beer after a church fundraiser fails. A She decides to bootleg the beer, to the horror of her son Andrew, nicknamed Blue, who is a special constable on the reserve.Meanwhile, Andrew has fallen for a young woman he thinks is his cousin, and his sister Marianne is bored with her Indian Yuppie husband and finds herself attracted to a handsome dancer at the powwow.The pace is fast and vigorous in this romantic situation comedy.
It's been a long time since I picked up a play, but I really need to do it more often. I thoroughly enjoyed this play. It was quick, it was fun, and very memorable. This play is cloaked in humor about love and family. It's sets the tone, and readers will immediately get to know the characters. Set on an Ojibway reserve, the play centers around Martha who is a great character. She's follows some bad advise from a fellow committee member and know that she was set up to fail. She's the matriarch, she's strong and she refuses to fail. She doesn't want to give her "friend" the satisfaction of seeing her fail. At the same time, she's dealing with every day family life. She dips her toes in, but largely lets them figure it out themselves.
I laughed throughout of the play. While it was written to be set on any reserve, I think it would work well with any small community. There's town gossip, large family trees and questionable "friends." The plot is simple, not complex or heavy. It's a play that will leave you entertained and wanting to check out more of his works. Drew Hayden Taylor did a reading at my Cegep many years ago and his visit stayed with me. I didn't know any native writers at the time, I was seventeen and he was one of the first that I heard about. He also wrote Motorcycles and Sweetgrass which you might be more familiar with. You can read my review of Motorcycles and Sweetgrass here.