Riche, Edward

Edward Riche, playwright, screenwriter, radio writer, novelist (b at Botwood, Nfld 24 Oct 1961). Best defined as a satirist, Edward Riche is one of the most productive writers in Newfoundland, working in several media and continuously creating work that is both comical and critical. His work can be uproariously humorous while seriously critiquing such targets as Newfoundland's culture and heritage industry, pretentious academics, and corrupt politicians. His style is described by fellow Newfoundlander Mary WALSH as "eviscerating comedy."

Edward Riche has written screenplays for stage, film, and radio. He received several awards for the five years he spent as a writer and performer for CBC Radio's The Great Eastern, a mock radio program aired on the fictional "Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland." Riche's play Possible Maps was produced by the TARRAGON THEATRE during its in 1994-95 season. He wrote the screenplay for the film Secret Nation (1992), which revolves around a possible conspiracy behind Newfoundland's confederation with Canada. Riche also served as a story consultant for the two-part television movie The Boys of St Vincent (1993), a dramatization of the Mount Cashel sexual abuse scandal. Riche's television script credits include eleven episodes of Rick MERCER 's Made in Canada and all six episodes of Dooley Gardens (1999), a comedy centred around the owners of a rundown St John's hockey rink.

Edward Riche is best known for his novel Rare Birds (1997), the humorous story of down-on-his-luck Dave Purcell, a restaurateur whose gourmet fare is ignored by the "fish and chip philistines of St John's." In an attempt to save his restaurant, Dave enlists his eccentric friend Phonse Murphy to stage the sighting of a rare (possibly extinct) waterfowl near his establishment. The resultant boom in business draws the attention of the tourism industry and provides Riche with ample opportunities to critique the consumable culture created by many Newfoundlanders. Through Dave's ever-increasing anxiety about being discovered as a fraud Riche satirizes the cultural re-enactments so popular in Newfoundland and the chaos, dependence, and self-loathing fostered within those who stage them. The novel was made into a film in 2001, for which Riche wrote the screenplay.

Riche's 2004 novel The Nine Planets won the Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Prize and the Winterset award for Newfoundland Fiction. A decidedly darker work than Rare Birds, this novel's protagonist is Marty Devereux, the bitter principal of a private school. Again, Riche's satire falls on several subjects: elite education, cultural purists, ecological crusaders, and Newfoundland separatists. The book continues Riche's tradition of seriously questioning the "truths" of Newfoundland identity through caustic humour.