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Leaving Home


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A: David French Pf: 1972, Toronto Pb: 1972 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Working-class house in Toronto, late 1950s C: 4m, 3fBill Mercer is about to get married to Kathy Jackson, who is pregnant. His brother Ben, just graduated from high school, and their mother Mary await the arrival of Jacob Mercer, the father, to go to the rehearsal for the wedding. Ben plans to leave home too to live with Bill and Kathy. Jacob comes home in a jolly mood, but he is upset, as the son of an Orangeman, that Bill is becoming a Catholic to marry Kathy. Kathy arrives looking pale, and tells Bill that she has lost the baby. Kathy's mother Minnie, tipsy and coarse, and her boyfriend Harold now join the party, and embarrass Kathy. When Bill suggests to Kathy that they now call off the wedding, since they no longer have to marry, Kathy flirts outrageously with Harold. When Kathy reveals to everyone that she has lost her baby, Mary wants to cancel the marriage, but Minnie insists it should go ahead. After a flare-up, calm is restored, and Bill and Kathy become reconciled and they leave for the rehearsal. When Jacob learns that Ben is leaving home too, he becomes so angry that he even tears up Ben's graduation diploma. Mary reveals that Ben worked to save the family when Jacob had been laid off from work. Jacob begs Ben to stay, but Ben goes, leaving Mary and Jacob alone together, as she gently explains why she chose to marry him.

A: David French Pf: 1972, Toronto Pb: 1972 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Working-class house in Toronto, late 1950s C: 4m, 3f

French's play is a well-observed unspectacular piece about family life, most of which is unspecific to Canada. Jacob provides the focus of interest, a well-intentioned but clumsy individual, both warm-hearted and intolerant, both generous and selfish. Though the children leave home, the ending is mildly optimistic.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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