Artsclub Theatre Company

Dates: 21 April - 15 May 2004
: Granville Island Stage

Reviewer: John Jane




Leslie Jones and Ted Cole as Rodney and Charlotte
On first entering the Granville Island Stage for Morris Panych’s 7 Stories, one is immediately struck by Ken MacDonald’s oddly geometric set design. An edifice with a cumulus sky painted on it offering an exaggerated perspective when viewed from left to right. Closer observation shows seven portals (not windows) that will eventually reveal the stories of the building’s seventh floor inhabitants.

Panych’s premise hinges on a nameless man perched precariously on the narrow ledge of an apartment building with the obvious aim to end it all. He encounters some quirky tenants, who far from becoming concerned about his plight, manage to draw him into their own pathetic lives.

Vincent Gale gives a remarkable Chaplinesque performance as the main character. On stage (actually on the ledge) for the entire ninety minutes without any apparent change in facial expression. The other twelve roles are shared equally by Jillian Fargey, Leslie Jones, Ted Cole and Shawn MacDonald.

Gale’s character first meets Rodney and Charlotte, a volatile couple who take malicious satisfaction in each other’s misery. They drag him into their domestic strife, then hand him a martini.





Our ledge-walker then engages in unwilling discourse with a paranoid narcoleptic who only listens to himself, a reluctant groom, a religious fanatic trying to convince herself of her own convictions, a bossy interior decorator and his unappeased client; and a cranky Nurse Wilson. None of these kooky characters appear to care or even notice that ‘the man’ is on a suicide mission.

Vincent Gale as the man on the ledge

He finally receives some empathy in the form of Lillian, a house-bound centenarian, deftly played by Jillian Fargey. She teaches him that the world can be as big or small, as beautiful or ugly as he will allow.

The end remains inconclusive, yet we are encouraged to be optimistic, believing the man’s fall is not literal, but metaphorical, bringing him - and the audience - ‘down to earth’.

I found the play to be smart, mercurial and thankfully lacking in familiar clichés.

© 2004, John Jane