7 Stories High
nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
August 10, 2007
One of the greatest things about FringeNYC is the opportunity for new artists to develop their craft. Playwright Hillary Leichter is making her playwriting debut with the fascinating 7 Stories High and has made a valiant first attempt.
The play focuses on four dwellers of a seven-story apartment building: a single mom, her daughter, the artist she takes painting lessons from, and a little girl who has a penchant for stealing spoons. The scenes are out of order and characters repeat themselves over and over, swapping lines from scene to scene. But the common theme is the mystery of the fire that started in another apartment in their building. Was it a gas leak? A candle left unattended? Or a tenant trying to avoid paying rent? The four characters seem trapped in a kind of purgatory, wondering what exactly happened.
Director Brendan Wattenberg has assembled a solid cast, anchored by Havilah Brewster and Kelly Miller as the mom and the artist who loves her. The two also completely transform themselves to portray the building's crotchety landlady and the sullen doorman—I didn't even realize it was the same actors! Caitlin Duffy does fine work as the daughter, and SharOn Halevy handles the difficult challenge of playing a nine-year-old with aplomb. Harris Sokoloff's lighting effectively sets the eerie mood, and the uncredited costumes and set are equally effective.
Leichter displays a great deal of talent in this interesting piece. I hope we can continue to see her talent develop in future festivals.