Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009

7th Floor Exterior, 2nd Floor Interior

Initial Thoughts on Next Act’s 7 Stories

By Russ Bickerstaff
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The aesthetic of walking in to the Off-Broadway Theatre for the next several weeks is kind of interesting. You’ve parked or taken the bus just south of downtown to walk out to a really classy historical building. You walk through a lobby dominated by the scent of the Aveda hair salon on the ground floor, past a small display of 3-D artworks and up a set of stairs that climb to the second floor at the idiosyncratic angle that leads-up to the Off Broadway Theatre. You make it into the theatre through the lobby and there, on stage in the second floor is a fairly realistic set designed to look like the 7th floor exterior of an apartment building. There’s a kind of visual humor there that’s kind of difficult to pinpoint. There’s no real visual punch line, it’s just a bit weird. The experience leaves one with an oddly classy feeling that can’t be put into words. It’s vaguely surreal. Not entirely unlike the show itself. Now through December 13th, Next Act is staging a production of Morris Panych’s 7 Stories.

The play about a well-dressed guy standing on the 7th story ledge of an apartment building is a series of static conversations, many of them strange, beautiful, allegorical and positively glowing with the kind of stylish humor that’s very, very difficult to explain. The existential nature of some of the comedy makes it feel a lot like Samuel Beckett with a settting and style of dialogue that feels a lot like Douglas Adams or Louis Carrol. Absolutely brilliant.

A man, a ledge and a series of people behind the windows. Being someone who sees a lot of theatre every year, I end up getting exposed to a lot of different types of shows, but 7 Stories is the type of play that made me fall in love with theatre in the first place. It’s nice to see Next Act executing it as well as they do here.

Next Act's 7 Stories runs through December 13th at the Off-Broadway Theatre. A review of the production runs in this week’s Shepherd-Express.

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