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Sunday March 28, 2010 in Books


By David French

Jitters, David French’s sophisticated backstage comedy, opens on the night of a preview of a new play, “The Care and Treatment of Roses.” Within minutes, the audience is plunged into the world of the theatre, a world of instant loves and hates, easily bruised egos, contradictory interpretations of role and script—all complicated by crises involving faulty props, lost lines, and bad reviews, and all magnified by the opening night “jitters” of cast, crew, writer and director.

First performed in 1979, Jitters was an instant critical and commercial success. In just a few years, the play was produced in nearly every regional theatre in Canada and enjoyed several American performances as well; and the published edition, introduced by Talonbooks in 1980, has gone through many printings. The play has been substantially changed in the process of undergoing its more than one hundred productions, and appears here in its revised edition.

ISBN 13: 9780889222427 | ISBN 10: 889222428
6 W x 9 H x 0.5 D inches | 176 pages
$19.95 CAN / $19.95 US
Rights: World
Backlist | Drama | Bisac: DRA013000
1 Edition
Revised edition


“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


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

About the Contributors

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.

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Copyright Talonbooks 1963-2018



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