Without a doubt, the audiences of Seven Stories are sure to leave the theatre with a keen interest in not taking life for granted.
Morris Panych’s Seven Stories is a dark comedy dealing with a man standing on a seventh storey window ledge contemplating taking the final leap and the building’s occupants whose lives steal the spotlight from the man’s serious, yet unacknowledged, predicament. Set in downtown Vancouver in the mid-1990s, Seven Stories is a rendering of self-absorption gone too far.
Due to director Pamela Haig Bartley keeping the casting call for the main character open to both men and women, Nadia Mori, a second-year drama student, is in the leading role of the woman on the ledge. Admittedly not the first person involved in a gender reversal in a production of Seven Stories, Mori said she has been drawing from her personal experiences of being conflicted with her own needs while attending to those of others to enhance her performance.
Seven Stories points the spotlight on what happens to a person when they are caught up in the rat-race of life. While being a tale of the many forms of extreme egotism, the “all work and no play” existence of the woman is exemplified through her wardrobe, which has seven sets of clothing — one for each day of the week — that are all identical.
“It brings you to the dilemma where one day you wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, where has my life gone?’” Mori said. “I’m trying to figure out what the meaning of life is and that’s the kind of the journey that I go through, meeting those stories that come out of the seven different windows.”
Despite seeming to be the less toxic form of self-absorption that the play showcases, the dangers of an unbalanced lifestyle are obvious as the entire premise of the play is the woman’s mundane lifestyle resulting in her being driven — nearly — over the edge.
While each of the seven stories that come out of the windows are no more healthy than the woman’s, the characters’ inability to recognize that there is a serious reason why the woman is on the ledge is telling. Mori said she hopes that the audience will leave the theatre re-evaluating how they go about their daily lives on both social and personal levels.
“Each story represents one way how you could numb yourself to life. You could be addicted to sex or addicted to drugs,” Mori said. “You could just be absorbed with trying to redecorate your apartment a hundred times and trying to find satisfaction with that.”
As a studio show, Seven Stories is put on entirely by students who are in first- and second-year drama classes — with the exception of Haig Bartley. While the production may not have all of the glimmer and shine as the Greystone Theatre works do just down the hall, the talent and dedication of these students is not to be undersold.
“It’s kind of a stepping stone: you learn a lot of the ropes like how a production might work, how you’re supposed to behave as an actor. It’s really a good learning opportunity,” Mori said.
The cast and crew worked with the challenge of operating on no budget and did so incredibly well. Instead of crafting numerous windows for the supporting characters to enter the scene through, they used a combination of curtains and the sound effects of windows sliding open and shut. In order to give the audience an idea of what the set is supposed to represent, there is one window frame used.
Those familiar with Seven Stories will also notice the additional gender-swapping of Percy — the party guest who unabashedly follows the hottest trends — into a female role.
Seven Stories runs Feb. 10–13 at the Studio Theatre in the John Mitchell Building at 8 p.m. each night. Ticket inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and will be available for purchase 30 minutes before each production in room