In Seven Days exceeds expectations

A photo of actors performing on stage the Grand Theatre in In Seven Days. CREDIT: DAHLIA KATZ
In Seven Days by Jordi Mand exceeded reporter Zoë King’s expectations with its captivating story and dynamic actors seen across The Grand Theatre’s Spriet Stage.

On the opening night of In Seven Days at the Grand Theatre, I had the privilege of sitting within three rows of the playwright for this very touching production. Jordi Mand, whose words were beautifully brought to life at the theatre, left the entire audience deeply moved as the actors portrayed a Jewish family navigating challenging times. The 90-minute show, affectionately branded, “a comedy about death,” made me think about saying goodbye to loved ones, MAID (Medical Assistance in Dying), and how religion might affect the MAID process.

Although In Seven Days has now concluded its run in London, this article paints a picture of what I personally took away from this production.

To set the scene, the backdrop of each act was a London family home with an open concept living room and kitchen. This was a very traditionally styled home with its warm-coloured floral wallpaper that created a cozy feeling throughout the house.

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There were only five actors on the stage throughout the show and each of them had their own sense of character, all of which have remained ingrained in me since.

We meet Samuel (Ron Lea), the father, an established lawyer who has unfortunately suffered from cancer for years. Even though there was a point that he was in remission, the cancer has come back, and much worse, which has caused great pain for him.

Samuel’s daughter, Rachel (Shaina Silver-Baird) has followed in her father’s footsteps and become a lawyer for a firm in Toronto. The father/daughter bond between Rachel and Samuel is very strong and the audience could feel that in many ways. One of the moments that stuck with me when it came to this relationship was when Samuel mentioned how even when Rachel went off to university, whenever she was having a tough time or if she was nervous for an interview, he would call her and sing the hit Stevie Wonder song “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” to calm her down.

The character of Shelley (Mairi Babb), meanwhile, is Samuel’s girlfriend and takes great care of him during the challenging times of his diagnosis. Shelley’s love for both Samuel and Rachel made her a beautiful role in this family dynamic.

Darren (Brendan McMurtry- Howlett) is Rachel’s boyfriend, a DJ. Samuel, being a protective father hasn’t always been very fond of the boyfriend because he doesn’t feel as though Darren could provide for his daughter. Oh, how this changed by the end of the production!

Eli (Ralph Small), the Rabi and one of Samuel’s best friends, faces a few battles of choosing to honour his religion or a great friend’s wishes.

The production begins with a very overworked and professionally dressed Rachel visiting Samuel and Shelley. After settling in at the house and bickering with Shelley from one thing to the next—including bringing the wrong bagels and her relationship with Darren ending—Rachel uncovers the sad news that her father had decided months ago that MAID is something he wanted to do.

In much denial and not wanting her father to go through with this, Rachel spends the entire night researching treatments to help convince her father not to proceed with MAID. However, Samuel has made up his mind and accepted that this is his best option.

Through the darkness, light is brought back onto the stage when Samuel decides to pop the question to Shelley and have the wedding right there in the living room before it’s time for them to say goodbye. Another act of brightness happens when Darren visits the house during this hard time and the audience finds out that Rachel is carrying his child.

Over the course of the seven days depicted in the show, three moments stick out most in my mind:

  1. Darren and Samuel’s conversation in the kitchen as they share ice-cream one late night. This is when Samuel realizes that Darren could provide and take care of Rachel when he is gone.
  2. Eli and Samuel discussing the matters of how Eli feels towards being in the room when the medicine is administered and his conflicted thoughts due to religious purposes.
  3. After Samuel passes, Rachel plays the voice note that her father had created of him singing the above-mentioned Stevie Wonder song.

There were so many amazing parts of this production that I could truly go on and on. Mand did such an amazing job of showing this family that many could relate to, whether Jewish or non-Jewish. Truthfully, I loved this production so much that I even stayed after to take a picture with Mand. Although this article sprinkled on many parts of what is seen in the show, there is still so much more to uncover. In Seven Days now makes its way to Toronto and will next be performing at the The Greenwin Theatre’s Meridian Arts Centre in North York.