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Posted: Tuesday March 23, 2010
David French

Born in Coley’s Point, Newfoundland, David French was one of Canada’s best-known and most critically acclaimed playwrights. His work received many major awards, and French was one of the first inductees into the Newfoundland Arts Hall of Honour.

Among his best-loved works are the semi-autobiographical Mercer plays: Salt-Water Moon, 1949, Leaving Home, recently named one of Canada’s 100 Most Influential Books (Literary Review of Canada) and one of the 1,000 Most Essential Plays in the English Language (Oxford Dictionary of Theatre), Of the Fields, Lately and Soldier’s Heart. The Mercer plays have received hundreds of productions across North America, including a Broadway production of Of the Fields, Lately. This quintet of plays about a Newfoundland family has also touched audiences in Europe, South America and Australia. In addition, French produced skillful adaptations of Alexander Ostrovsky’s The Forest, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull and August Strindberg’s Miss Julie.

LATEST David French NEWS

January 2018 : Talon plays on stage now in Sudbury, Halifax, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Belleville, New York state, Ottawa, Richmond, and Pennsylvania state!

July 2016 : On stage now! “Salt-Water Moon” at the Pacific Theatre in Vancouver

January 2016 : No fewer than nine Talon plays on stage across Canada this spring!

January 2016 : Two Talon classics at Toronto’s Factory Theatre this spring!



Nominated for the 1988 BC Book Prize for Non-Fiction


Salt-Water Moon

Winner of the 1985 Dora Mavor Moore Award Outstanding New Play

Winner of the 1985 The Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award

Winner of the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award

Winner of the Hollywood Drama-Logue Critics Award and ACTRA Award



Winner of the 1980 The Floyd S. Chalmers Canadian Play Award


One Crack Out

“One Crack Out is a large-boned, daring work, reflecting an astute craftsmanship…the results are almost explosively stirring.”
—Toronto Star

“French’s glimpse of life in one Canadian underworld is funny, vigorous, and highly theatrical.”
—Globe & Mail

“A definite winner that will be around for a long time.”
—Ottawa Citizen


Riddle of the World, The

“Sharp, funny…reaches the level of some of Shaw’s better work.”
—CBC Radio

[French] is one of Canda’s most acclaimed playwrights and an accomplished explorer of the power of memory.
—Quill & Quire


That Summer

“The quiet sense of wonder, of bygone innocence conveyed through this lovely play is as refreshing as a summer storm after a heat wave.”
—The Kitchener-Waterloo Record

“A lyrical and beautifully constructed meditation on the passage of time…David French is a playwright at the height of his powers.”
—Canadian Book Review

"That Summer is a gentle, moving, and decidedly literary eulogy for lost youth."
—Quill & Quire


Silver Dagger

“The plot shifts gears faster than the Andretti race-car kings …”
—Toronto Star



“With the love French bears his characters, and the humour, poignancy, and insight that grace every scene, 1949 stands squarely in the rich tradition of world literature — Chekhov springs to mind — that maps the intricate joys and torment of the human soul.”

“Written on an epic scale with an epic theme…The stories are told with French’s warm humour and effortless command of stage convention.”
—Globe and Mail

—Winnipeg Free Press

“A glorious romp of Newfoundland humour and pathos.”
—Montreal Gazette


Salt-Water Moon

“For audiences steeped in Salt-Water Moon, [Ravi Jain’s 2018] production presents a fresh take on a beloved old script. And even for those who’ve never heard of the play before, Jain offers a hauntingly familiar take on an old, sweet song.”
Vancouver Observer

“Three decades have only served to enhance the beauty and universality of David French’s 1984 romantic drama Salt-Water Moon.”
Calgary Herald

Salt-Water Moon casts a gorgeous, candlelit spell … There are complications and class issues, and a world of things standing in their way, such as Mary’s engagement to another man, but we’re rooting for the estranged couple almost immediately. The audience’s investment is thanks in part to the magic in French’s writing.”
Georgia Straight

“[Ravi Jain’s 2016 production] sheds a new light on Jacob’s relationship with his father. … But more than anything, … Jacob and Mary are two people trying to balance love, independence and responsibility. … It does what any good production of a classic does: reminds us why it’s a classic in the first place.”
Toronto Star

“The [2016 Factory Theatre] production, with no designer credited, is visually beguiling, as befits a play about a moonlit courtship. … [the] ending … is magically done”
National Post

“This is a lovely play, lovingly written. We’ve not met the likes of Mary and Jacob on any stage in many a long day. You’ll not soon forget them.”
Hollywood Drama-Logue

“Small-scaled and delicate, Salt-Water Moon is a radiant affirmation of the gifts French exhibited in his earlier plays. Spare, lyrical and tightly constructed, there’s nothing in it that isn’t essential, yet the images the writer conjures up stay in the mind long after the play is finished. It’s a long time since Canadian theatre has been graced by a play as well written as this one.”
Ottawa Citizen

“[Salt-Water Moon is] a gem of a play, an old-fashioned love song that is affecting, funny, and evocative as a dream.”
Globe & Mail

“David French has created an old-fashioned love song that fills Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre with tough talk and tender feeling.”

Salt-Water Moon shines.”
Philadelphia Daily News

“French has packed his script with plenty of emotion and an almost poetic lilt that makes it fairly pulse with the humours and disappointments of young love.”
Toronto Sun

“Tender as a caress, delicate as a love poem…tremendous!”
Southam News



“Almost four decades after its original production, Jitters holds up … It’s such an indulgent pleasure to engage in meta-theatre of this calibre … It’s not always a thrill to watch a play about a play, but it is when it’s like this: biting, affectionate, and funny in equal measure.”
Georgia Straight (2018)

“Canada’s most successful playwright in 1979 when Jitters premiered, French knew of what he wrote. His backstage comedy features some slapstick turns but is grounded in the real insecurities of theatre people facing the terrifying verdicts of audiences, critics, producers and their own fragile egos. … Besides the characters’ insecurities, French was exploring the national cultural inferiority complex at the time, the idea that Canadians didn’t appreciate their artists and to make it in the arts you had to go to New York or Hollywood or London.”
Vancouver Sun (2018)

“In today’s world, we are daily exposed to so much poor amateur farce happening on political stages that’s it’s a nice change to see it done well, theatrically … Jitters, a play written by Canadian David French, is unabashedly created to be pure fun and is one of Canada’s most produced plays. … Jitters moves at a fast pace, alternating slapstick and subtle comedy successfully, as the laughter and applause of the opening night audience attested.”
Burnaby Now (2018)

“French’s play – which I want to emphasize here, is also downright hilarious – is set in the lead-up to the opening night of a new play called The Care and Treatment of Roses. light-hearted, but honest examination of Canada’s cultural cringe … it’s one of the most fun nights you’ll ever have at Soulpepper.”
Globe & Mail (2016)

“David French’s hilarious backstage drama Jitters is a comedic masterpiece… the laughter builds and builds to a rippling series of rib-aching crescendos.”
Toronto Star (2010)

“After the opening of ‘The Care and Treatment of Roses,’ a review is read aloud to the company and it is a dead-on spoof of an attitudinizing critic. He calls the play ‘a seamless fabric of passion and redeemed hope.’ The author wonders why the critic hedged at all. Why didn’t he come right out and say the play was perfect? With that review in mind, I will hedge a little. Jitters is an almost perfect comedy of its kind.”
New York Times

Jitters is the happiest case of stage fright I have ever encountered.”
New York Post

Jitters is witty, affectionate, bitchy, bitterly touching. French handles a complicated idea with great sophistication.”
Toronto Star

Copyright Talonbooks 1963-2018



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