After a five-year hiatus from the stage, George F. Walker, Canada’s most prolific playwright, has re-emerged with a planned six-play cycle called “Suburban Motel.” With the first two installments up and running (the third is set to go in mid-November and the next three in 1998) it is clear that Walker is in top form.
“Problem Child” and “Adult Entertainment,” like the other four to come, are set in the same, shag-carpeted motel room, a transient world occupied by hookers , druggies, the homeless and the hapless, although the characters are, at least on the surface, substantially varied in each play.
In “Problem Child” a husband and wife await a social worker to learn whether they’ll regain custody of their child. Mayhem ensues, including the burying of a body that rises from the grave. In “Adult Entertainment” two rogue cops decide to “persuade” a suspect to lie. Things go seriously wrong.
Both plays are uproariously funny, although “Adult Entertainment” is not as balanced between the serious and the darkly humorous as “Problem Child.” And the latter has been given a somewhat stronger production, with exquisite work from its four actors, while “Adult Entertainment” has yet to find the seamless flow of Walker’s work.
Walker’s longtime themes (obsessive behavior, struggling for order, the relationship of power to evil) are joined by a new compassion that fleshes out his characters. If his “criminals” have moved closer to the mainstream, Walker remains the kind of extraordinary storyteller who can make you listen to things you never thought you’d want to hear.