Deverell, Rex. The Copetown City Kite Crisis. A- K-3 This play is set in Copetown, which could represent any modern city in North America. The town’s chief industry is kite-making, and the factory’s “secret process machine” makes it possible to create kites that will actually enable children to fly. However, it is discovered that the machine is responsible for the air and water pollution that plague the once pleasant community. Sol, a young adolescent, discovers the secret of the pollution and tries to get the machine shut down so that his friend Nancy, who is made sick by the polluted air, won’t have to move away. Sol begins to realize some of the complexities of the issues and learns that the mayor and the factory owner have tried to suppress the truth about the machine. The play inducts the children in the audience into the role of factory workers and allows them to vote and decide whether or not to go on strike to get the machine shut down. There are two possible endings to the play, depending on the audience’s choice. Each ending explores some of the consequences of the decision. The play is reminiscent of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, in which the town physician’s discovery of pollution in the town’s new hot springs resort is met by denial and violent opposition by the townsfolk, who depend economically on the tourist attraction. The Copetown City Kite Crisis tells the same theme in a manner which a young audience can easily comprehend. The young characters take the significant action of the play, and in the end, the audience assumes the protagonist’s function, determining the outcome of the plot and characters. The stakes in the plot are clear, but the issue is somewhat oversimplified. Although the playwright strives to give equal weight to each option, the ending demonstrates a definite environmental bias. If the machine is shut down, the town suffers minimal economic impact, but if the machine continues to operate, the environmental impact is devastating. The play represents a bold approach to a significant social issue, but its reach just slightly exceeds its grasp. As Found in: Hamill, Tony, ed. CLASS ACTS: Six Plays for Children. Playwrights Canada, 1992. ISBN 0-88754-487-8. 376 pp. Reviewed by John D. Newman
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