Written by Ned Dickens and directed by Hannah-Rae Sabyan, SEVEN is a dramatic play of tragedy and drunken revels. The story takes place during the end of the Trojan War, and revolves around the lives of seven Thebans the night before they are forced to die in battle. Sabyan informs me that SEVEN is the result of a four-week rehearsal. In theatre, this is an extremely short amount of time to prepare for a full-length play.
SEVEN follows the lives of Bowl (Louis-Alexandre Boulet), Firewood (Jocelyn Kraynyk), Water (Kyle Warne), Glass (Margaret Rose), Bread (Katerina Hatzinakos), Cloth (Uir Lone-Bikey), and Blood (Adam-Ali Kanji-Lalani).
The show was impressive considering the limited time for rehearsal and design. The greatest strength of the play was the venue . I think that in the best plays, films, and novels, a well-done setting can become as dynamic and important as a character in the play. SEVEN uses this to its greatest advantage.
The play was held in the outdoor quad of University College. Local contractor, Robbie Winter, constructed a real fire pit, along with a table of food and wine, and a tent around which the audience sat in a circle. Harkening to traditional Ancient Greek theatre, the venue provided a palpable atmosphere suitable for immersing the audience in the storyline. The costume and stellar performances by the actors also helped in this regard.
It is important here to explain that while the play’s outdoor setting is a strength, it can also be a double-edged sword. A potential problem is raised for the physical comfort of the audience. When I saw it, the weather was cold. It would have been better if the production was scheduled for the previous weekend when the weather was still warm.
The best parts of the play were the lighthearted scenes. There were many instances of the actors drinking and spilling wine on the ground, getting drunk, dancing, singing, and kissing each other. The acting was very natural and convincing, and almost indistinguishable from reality. The lighting done by Julia Davis was appropriately subtle and played off the natural environment in a way that pulled the viewers in even more.
I was impressed by all the actors on display, and it didn’t feel like any one actor had done better than the other. Each actor played a particular personality, and as Sabyan pointed out, the crux of SEVEN was the seven actors playing off each other as a chorus, meaning, there is no central character or traditional hero, but an ensemble work. To pull this off, there has to be great chemistry between the characters and considering the extremely short time for rehearsal, it was shocking how perfectly they blocked their movement and delivered their lines.
The dialogue and how the play is formatted is a double-edged sword. The lines are in the style of Greek verse, meaning that there are many lines that are lyrical, that rhyme, and are pleasing to listen to. There were, however, many sections where some characters would have a long monologue, and it would go for so long that I would lose track of what was happening.
The contrast and transition between scenes could be quite jarring; One moment everyone is dancing and yelling around the campfire, and the next moment a character has an emotional existential crisis. The fault here may lie more so with the playwright, but these moments could have perhaps been directed better to have a smoother transition. As well, when one goes to see SEVEN, they should know that there are no breaks during the play, and it runs around an hour and forty minutes. This results in occasional fatigue from the long lyrical monologues and the jarring emotional transitions.
With these hesitations and precautions in mind, I would wholly recommend seeing SEVEN for the unique experience it offers as a play.