By Trent Scherer
Returning to a role he created, Peter Anderson once again steps up to the ledge of a great production of The Canadian Stage Company’s 7 Stories.
Back in 1989, Morris Panych,the playwright, chose Anderson to play the character of ‘The Man’ for the first production of 7 Stories. Along with his set-designing partner Ken MacDonald, Panych directed the original show into winning six Jessie and 4 Dora Mavor Moore Awards.
This new production has Dean Paul Gibson at the helm with mostly Western actors. I have to agree with my friend Lewis in saying that Rebecca Northan makes the show worth seeing. Though there are a number of great characters, all three that Northan brings to life are enticing. Lewis is not a huge fan of comedies so I know it would a hard sell to bring him. The fact that he enjoyed Northan so much, shows how well she managed to grab Lewis’ attention.
I just recently moved into a 9th floor apartment with numerous windows no more than 30 feet away. For anyone who has ever lived with apartment windows so close, it’s very much like this production: think “Rear Window” without murder. This play is a great comedy, and as I sat watching I couldn’t help but think about the exhibitionist who showers every 2 hours, or the couple who enjoy copulating with the curtains open. Was this play imitating my life or was my life imitating this play.
Before I continue, I’ll admit my bias here. I have worked with Gibson and Anderson as well as the assistant director Prichard. All three of them are good people in both a human as well as a professional sense. It’s because of people like this that this play comes to life so well. However, I think there is still one issue with this production.
Though the play is a black comedy with sweet morbidity, there is a shift within Panych’s last scene with the 100 year old Lillian where ‘The Man’ has to finally take the step off the ledge. The pacing of the show suffers, partially because of the contrast in scene types. It’s tough for the production and the audience to move from several fast paced scenes into a slower one since one gets set into the pace initially set. If you keep the shift in mind, you’ll be fine.
MacDonald’s set is very similar to his original design and frankly there is no reason to change something when it works so well. As you can see from the production photo, the 7th floor is suggested by way of a massive wall of sky and clouds. It’s an awe-inspiring effect that does its job well.
It’s a great production and well worth heading downtown for. You might not be able to identify with all the characters but I’m sure you’ll recognise a few of them from your life.
There is no intermission and the play runs approximately 100 minutes so hit the WCs before you get comfortable.
–7 Stories runs until December 5th at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St E).
-Performances run Monday to Saturday at 8pm with Wednesday matinees at 1:30pm and Saturday matinees at 2pm.
-Ticket cost ranges from $20-$92.
– Tickets are available at The Canadian Stage Company by calling 416.368.3110
Photo of Damien Atkins, Rebecca Northan & Peter Anderson provided by Canadian Stage.