The Structure of the Unknown

A list of tools we use to try to make sense of the world: 1. facts. 2. definitions. 3. repetition. 4. science. 5. lists. A list of images that leave us searching for meaning: 1. the place where two walls meet. 2. four spoons twisted round each other. 3. faded footsteps on grass. 4. a penny lost in a couch. 5. a child hiding behind an old book chest.

The characters in Hillary Leichter’s new play 7 Stories High try to make sense of their shattered world by making lists and other equally intellectual activities. But the mind is limited when it comes to existential matters. Leichter suggests that the secret to accepting the unknowable nature of life may lie, not with structured thought, but in the world of feeling and flux.

Through a gentle artist’s stroke, Ms. Leichter, assisted by the capable help of director Brendan Wattenberg, has created a rich, complex theatrical structure that moves freely, not only through space and sound, but also back and forth in time. Four distinct characters, who inhabit different floors of the same building, each try to explain what happened to the building, or perhaps to themselves. It seems there was a fire, or a disaster of some sort, but no one, least of all the newspaper clipping, has any answers. “I don’t have to see to know” is an early line in the play that sets the tone for the sweet exploration that will ensue.

The collapse of two large towers six years ago lurks just behind the scenes, but only as a metaphor. The treatment of the collective disaster, handled with warmth and care, is a reflection of the characters' personal questions about life and death. Through their sensitive portrayals, the four excellent actors (Havilah Brewster, Caitlin Duffy, Sharon Halevy and Kelly Miller) lead the audience on a soft journey into the unknown, filled with humor, sadness, and musical dialogue. 7 Stories High is highly recommended for viewers seeking a theater experience that will quietly gratify their hearts and minds.

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