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Theatre review – “The 21st Floor” at PAL Theatre (Coal Harbour) November 18, 2008

Posted by Raul in link love, local events, theatre.
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Image (c) Lyrics Stage

Photo by Wendy D. (c) Lyrics Stage

If you only see a play this season, “The 21st Floor” should be the one. Trust me on that one. Being a former stage actor myself, I have a very deep appreciation for well-created, solidly-developed, non-formulaic theatrical experiences.

The 21st Floor, a masterpiece created by Michèle Lonsdale Smith in a harmonious and skillfully coordinated effort with the rest of the cast as an ensemble, is an examination of the lives of 11 residents of a Coal Harbour apartment building. These apparent strangers have their lives intertwine (and at times, collide) by virtue of being neighbours in the 21st floor.

Lonsdale Smith and the Lyrics Stage Project have made sure that the play is consistent with their core objective: to tell stories that are relevant to the people in the time and the place where the play is being shown. This six-month project saw the light just recently (November 11th) but you should totally run and see before November 22nd.

The 21st Floor” is an in-depth examination of the behavioral patterns of Vancouverites through the lenses of their domestic lives. What goes on in 2107 every night? Who is that blogger who broadcasts our daily comings-and-goings to the world?  And the most important question, have we lost the opportunity to create a sense of community by choosing to isolate ourselves within the confines of our apartments? Are the doors to enter our souls closed, as demonstrated by our choosing to close the door behind us and ignore what else is going on in the 21st floor? All of these are questions that I believe the cast was exploring throughout the play.

The stage design was phenomenal, as the stage manager recreated a full floor with different apartments (although we could very easily see through). I was deeply moved and strongly connected with the themes of the play. As you may remember, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while now, I’ve previously written about the sense of aloofness in Vancouverites and asked the question whether Vancouver is a toxic city.

“The 21st Floor” will definitely resonate with long-time Vancouver residents, and I strongly suggest you to take an opportunity to go and enjoy the performance. The actors are simply phenomenal. I can’t single out any particular one of them, as all did a wonderful job of portraying the characters they were assigned to play. At no point does the play feel cartoonish. On the contrary, it’s such a strong, lived performance, that I really, really want to go and see it again.

I had the opportunity to enjoy “The 21st Floor” thanks to an invitation by Simon Ogden, of The Next Stage Magazine and the Marketing Director of Lyrics Stage Project. Amongst a gazillion other things he does, Simon blogs about theatre in Vancouver and is very passionate about helping raise awareness on the world-class theatre we have in our beautiful city.

One thing you should know is that the show is rated around PG 13 as it contains strong language, scenes of violence, nudity, and sexuality, with some occasional loud noises.  The show’s length is 90 minutes with no intermission. But you won’t even notice. The play flows so nicely that you won’t need the intermission.

Performances of The 21st Floor run Tuesday through Saturday, November 11th to 22nd at the PAL Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver. You can reserve tickets online at www.ticketstonight.ca

If you’re not making a lot of $$$, you can go on Tuesday November 18th, as it’s “Pay What You Can” night. You REALLY, REALLY should go and see it. I strongly recommend it. And I do hope to have a chance to hang out with the actors after one of the performances, as I didn’t have a chance to do so when I saw the show. Everyone involved with The 21st Floor should be proud of their work. Maybe at some point, I might be able to participate in one of their plays (not in the near future, though! — too much stuff going on in my life)

UPDATE – You can check details on the UQ Events page!

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